Physical inactivity is a risk factor for cardiovascular and other chronic diseases. It has been shown that both physical inactivity and social isolation increase with age, and that these factors are detrimental to physical and mental well-being. The purpose of the present study was to examine the relationship between physical inactivity and social isolation in older US adults. Using data from a nationally representative cross-sectional survey, the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1988-1994, we assessed the age- and race-specific prevalence of no leisure-time physical activity in relation to various forms of social interaction. The prevalence of no leisure-time physical activity increases with age in both men and women. In non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic blacks, and Mexican Americans, the prevalence of no leisure-time physical activity is increased in older US adults who are socially isolated. Social isolation is related to physical inactivity among persons 60 years and older. Longitudinal and intervention studies are needed to establish whether increased social support translates to a more active population of older adults.
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