Quantifying frequency and variety of activities in older adults: relationships with physical and cognitive performance Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Shubert, Tiffany Elisa
    • Affiliation: School of Medicine, Department of Allied Health Sciences, Curriculum in Human Movement Science
  • Activity provides a protective effect against cognitive and physical decline in older adults. Recent literature suggests that for older adults, variety and frequency of activity may be more important to this protective effect than intensity level. Although the ideal amount, type, and intensity of activity for preventing decline has not been determined, current tools for measuring activity are inadequate. A review of current activity measures used for older adults revealed that there is no reliable and valid tool to quantify variety or frequency of participation in different types of activities. Using a cross sectional design, I developed, tested and validated the Variety of Activity Questionnaire (VAQ) to measure frequency and variety in social, cognitive, physical, and exercise activity domains, and examined associations among frequency and variety with physical and cognitive function. Questionnaires were collected from 196 community dwelling older adults (range: 70 - 99 years, mean: 78.7 years) in North Carolina. Exploratory factor analysis evaluated the underlying structure of the VAQ. An ICC was used to assess test-retest reliability for the outcomes of total activity (TA) and variety of activity (VA) on a subset of 30 participants and construct validity on a different subset of 53 participants. Physical and cognitive performance measures were assessed on 95 participants. Regression analyses identified demographic and performance measures significantly associated with TA and VA. The VAQ demonstrated acceptable test-retest reliability [ICC 2,1 = .69 (TA), .72 (VA)] and validity [ICC 2,1 = .57(TA), .71(VA)]. The VAQ failed to factor; therefore, the structure and components of the VAQ were not modified. A mobility measure and marital status were significant predictors of VA, and a dynamic balance measure was a significant predictor of TA. Measures of attention and processing speed were significantly related to both VA and TA, but had stronger associations with VA. Variety of activity appears to have stronger associations with physical and cognitive performance than TA, suggesting that variety of activity may be important for function. The VAQ has potential as a tool for researchers and clinicians and warrants continued study. Future intervention studies will clarify the relationship between variety of activity and function.
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  • In Copyright
  • Giuliani, Carol
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  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Open access

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