270165 Social determinants of physical activity behavior among elders in Sri Lanka

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Bilesha Perera, PhD , Department of Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ruhuna, Galle, Sri Lanka
Mohammad R. Torabi, PhD , Applied Health Science, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
Chandramali Jayawardana, PhD , Department of Natural Resources, Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka, Belihuloya, Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka has the fastest aging population in the South Asian region. Despite being a low income country until late 1980's, health indicators of the elderly in the country have been impressive and almost comparable to upper income countries. However, public health professionals fear that emerging trends of physical inactivity behavior observed in the elderly will soon jeopardize the situation. A community survey (n= 443) using an interviewer administered questionnaire and four Focus Discussion Groups (n=32) were conducted in Southern Sri Lanka to identify social determinants of physical activity behavior in the elderly. Chi square test was used to identify bivariate relationships. Being a women (p <.01), age of over 70 years (p<.05), having a low level of education (p<.01) and poor social interactions (p =.08) were positively associated with physical inactivity. Urban-dwellers were more enthusiastic than rural dwellers about being involved in physical activity, but lack of facilities and opportunities have prevented them being physically active. Social support networks in the urban areas do not seem to support physical activity behavior which is the case in the rural settings. It appears that women, those who are above age 70 and those who are socially isolated are vulnerable populations that should be targeted for intervention. An environment conducive to physical activity should be created especially in urban settings because even moderate increases in physical activity would lower the risk of developing cardiovascular and other chronic ill-health conditions in the elderly even when it is initiated at the age of 70.

Learning Areas:
Program planning
Provision of health care to the public
Public health or related education
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Identify social determinants of physical activity in the context of healthy aging in a resource limitted setting. Describe possible cost effective interventions that increase physical activity in the elderly in a resource limited setting

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the Principal Investigator of the research project that this paper draws from
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.