Mobility explains the association between social activity and mortality risk in older people

November 29, 2013

Social activity and health correlate in old age, but less is known about what explains this association. The results of a study carried out in the Gerontology Research Center showed that part of the association between social activity and mortality was mediated by mobility among older men and women. Of other potential mediators, having less depressive symptoms and better cognitive functioning are merely prerequisites for social activity.

"The health-enhancing influences of social activity may be partly explained by better mobility among persons who are socially active. Moreover, social activity may maintain mobility and thus decrease , as many also include physical activity," says Katja Pynnönen, a PhD student from the University of Jyväskylä, Department of Health Sciences.

Collective social activity researched in this study included, for example cultural activities, acting in organizations, travelling, in groups, and dancing. When participating in these kinds of activities, a person acts together with other people and may experience a sense of belonging to a group and a feeling of being liked and accepted.

Helping others in various daily tasks is an example of productive social activity which may give feelings of doing good and being useful.

"Good and having less seemed to be prerequisites for social activity. Thus, it is important to recognize and take into account those older people who have memory problems and are melancholy, and may need extra support to participate in social activities," says Pynnönen.

The study is part of the Evergreen project carried out in the University of Jyväskylä. In 1988, 406 men and 775 women aged 65–84 years took part in face-to-face interviews. Data on mortality were drawn from the population register.

Explore further: Personal goals may facilitate or hinder older adults' striving for exercise

More information: Do mobility, cognitive functioning, and depressive symptoms mediate the association between social activity and mortality risk among older men and women? Pynnönen Katja, Törmäkangas Timo, Rantanen Taina, Lyyra Tiina-Mari , European Journal of Ageing, October 2013 DOI: 10.1007/s10433-013-0295-3

Related Stories

Personal goals may facilitate or hinder older adults' striving for exercise

August 28, 2013
Although exercise may significantly promote healthy aging, many older adults remain sedentary. Based on a study conducted in the Gerontology Research Center at the University of Jyväskylä, one reason for this may lie behind ...

Does Facebook make you fat?

September 11, 2012
Time spent on social networking sites comes at the expense of other activities – including physical activity, new research by the University of Ulster has revealed. 

Analysis of social media use could give therapists more complete view of patients' health

January 25, 2013
Facebook activity provided a window into the psychological health of participants in a study at the University of Missouri. Social media profiles could eventually be used as tools for psychologists and therapists, according ...

Exercising with others helps college students reduce stress

September 4, 2013
College students who exercised vigorously for 20 minutes at least three days a week were less likely to report poor mental health and perceived stress, according to a study in the American Journal of Health Promotion. However, ...

Learning new skills keeps an aging mind sharp

October 21, 2013
Older adults are often encouraged to stay active and engaged to keep their minds sharp, that they have to "use it or lose it." But new research indicates that only certain activities—learning a mentally demanding skill ...

Regular physical activity in later life boosts likelihood of 'healthy aging' up to sevenfold

November 25, 2013
It's never too late to get physically active, with even those starting relatively late in life reaping significant health benefits, finds research published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Recommended for you

Expert: Be concerned about how apps collect, share health data

October 20, 2017
As of 2016 there were more than 165,000 health and wellness apps available though the Apple App Store alone. According to Rice University medical media expert Kirsten Ostherr, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates ...

More teens than ever aren't getting enough sleep

October 19, 2017
If you're a young person who can't seem to get enough sleep, you're not alone: A new study led by San Diego State University Professor of Psychology Jean Twenge finds that adolescents today are sleeping fewer hours per night ...

Across Asia, liver cancer is linked to herbal remedies: study

October 18, 2017
Researchers have uncovered widespread evidence of a link between traditional Chinese herbal remedies and liver cancer across Asia, a study said Wednesday.

Eating better throughout adult years improves physical fitness in old age, suggests study

October 18, 2017
People who have a healthier diet throughout their adult lives are more likely to be stronger and fitter in older age than those who don't, according to a new study led by the University of Southampton.

Global calcium consumption appears low, especially in Asia

October 18, 2017
Daily calcium intake among adults appears to vary quite widely around the world in distinct regional patterns, according to a new systematic review of research data ahead of World Osteoporosis Day on Friday, Oct. 20.

New study: Nearly half of US medical care comes from emergency rooms

October 17, 2017
Nearly half of all US medical care is delivered by emergency departments, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM). And in recent years, the percentage of care delivered ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.