The Role of Pain in Understanding Racial/Ethnic Differences in the Frequency of Physical Activity Among Older Adults

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physical activity, pain, race/ethnicity

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Objectives: To evaluate racial/ethnic differences in physical activity among White, Black, and Hispanic adults aged 65 years and older, and to assess the potential role of pain as a mediator. Methods: Analyses were based on data from the 2008 Health and Retirement Study. Logistic regression was used to evaluate associations between race/ethnicity and pain and the odds of regular physical activity. Results: Compared to Whites, the odds of both light physical activity and moderate/vigorous physical activity were lower among Blacks, but not Hispanics. A graded inverse association between levels of pain severity and the odds of physical activity was found, but pain did not mediate racial/ethnic differences in physical activity. Discussion: When compared to Whites, older Blacks appear to have relatively low rates of physical activity even without comparatively high levels of pain, while older Hispanics experience relatively high rates of pain, but are perhaps more resilient to the effects of pain on physical activity.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Journal of Aging and Health, v. 25, issue 3, p. 405-421