Weather, day length and physical activity in older adults: Cross-sectional results from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) Norfolk Cohort

Yu-Tzu Wu, Robert Luben, Nicholas Wareham, Simon Griffin, Andy P. Jones

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Background: A wide range of environmental factors have been related to active ageing, but few studies have explored the impact of weather and day length on physical activity in older adults. We investigate the cross-sectional association between weather conditions, day length and activity in older adults using a population-based cohort in England, the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) Norfolk study. 
Methods: Physical activity was measured objectively over 7 days using an accelerometer and this was used to calculate daily total physical activity (counts per minute), daily minutes of sedentary behaviour and light, moderate and vigorous physical activity (LMVPA). Day length and two types of weather conditions, precipitation and temperature, were obtained from a local weather station. The association between these variables and physical activity was examined by multilevel first-order autoregressive modelling. 
Results: After adjusting for individual factors, short day length and poor weather conditions, including high precipitation and low temperatures, were associated with up to 10% lower average physical activity (p<0.01) and 8 minutes less time spent in LMVPA but 15 minutes more sedentary time, compared to the best conditions. 
Conclusion: Day length and weather conditions appear to be an important factor related to active ageing. Future work should focus on developing potential interventions to reduce their impact on physical activity behaviours in older adults.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0177767
JournalPLoS One
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2017

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