Projects per year
OBJECTIVES: To examine the associations between volume and intensity of older peoples' physical activity, with their subsequent health service usage over the following four to five years.
STUDY DESIGN: A prospective cohort design using baseline participant characteristics, objectively assessed physical activity and lower limb function provided by Project OPAL (Older People and Active Living). OPAL-PLUS provided data on numbers of primary care consultations, prescriptions, unplanned hospital admissions, and secondary care referrals, extracted from medical records for up to five years following the baseline OPAL data collection.
PARTICIPANTS AND DATA COLLECTION: OPAL participants were a diverse sample of 240 older adults with a mean age of 78 years. They were recruited from 12 General Practitioner surgeries from low, middle, and high areas of deprivation in a city in the West of England. Primary care consultations, secondary care referrals, unplanned hospital admissions, number of prescriptions and new disease diagnoses were assessed for 213 (104 females) of the original 240 OPAL participants who had either consented to participate in OPAL-PLUS or already died during the follow-up period.
RESULTS: In regression modelling, adjusted for socio-economic variables, existing disease, weight status, minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) per day predicted subsequent numbers of prescriptions. Steps taken per day and MVPA also predicted unplanned hospital admissions, although the strength of the effect was reduced when further adjustment was made for lower limb function.
CONCLUSIONS: Community-based programs are needed which are successful in engaging older adults in their late 70s and 80s in more walking, MVPA and activity that helps them avoid loss of physical function. There is a potential for cost savings to health services through reduced reliance on prescriptions and fewer unplanned hospital admissions.