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Master's Culminating Experience

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Physical activity guidelines for health improvement were recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2008. Today, data on individuals’ adherence to the CDC guidelines are collected as part of its Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BFRSS) survey. While racial disparities in health outcomes are well documented, analyses of the BRFSS data have the potential to shed light on whether there are racial differences in the relationship between physical activity and health outcomes.

The 2015 (BRFSS) dataset contained responses from 441,456 individuals, including 42,516 over the age of 65 who had complete data on the variables that were included in this study. Self-reported days of poor physical and mental health were the outcome variables. Physical activity guidelines were the primary predictor of interest and race, sex, education, income, smoking, living in a city center, relationship status, and arthritis were considered potential confounding factors.

African Americans were found to have significantly more days of poor physical health than Whites (p=.04). However, the association between physical activity and days of poor physical or mental health did not differ by race (p=0.58 and p=0.69, respectively). For all races, meeting aerobic guidelines was associated with fewer days of poor physical and mental health. In contrast, meeting strength guidelines alone was not associated with fewer days of poor physical or mental health. More research is needed to determine the optimum amounts of physical activity in the elderly.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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