The relationship between outdoor activity and health in older adults using GPS

Jacqueline Kerr, Simon Marshall, Suneeta Godbole, Suvi Neukam, Katie Crist, Kari Wasilenko, Shahrokh Golshan, David Buchner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Physical activity (PA) provides health benefits in older adults. Research suggests that exposure to nature and time spent outdoors may also have effects on health. Older adults are the least active segment of our population, and are likely to spend less time outdoors than other age groups. The relationship between time spent in PA, outdoor time, and various health outcomes was assessed for 117 older adults living in retirement communities. Participants wore an accelerometer and GPS device for 7 days. They also completed assessments of physical, cognitive, and emotional functioning. Analyses of variance were employed with a main and interaction effect tested for ±30 min PA and outdoor time. Significant differences were found for those who spent >30 min in PA or outdoors for depressive symptoms, fear of falling, and self-reported functioning. Time to complete a 400 m walk was significantly different by PA time only. QoL and cognitive functioning scores were not significantly different. The interactions were also not significant. This study is one of the first to demonstrate the feasibility of using OPEN ACCESS accelerometer and GPS data concurrently to assess PA location in older adults. Future analyses will shed light on potential causal relationships and could inform guidelines for outdoor activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4615-4625
Number of pages11
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2012


  • Accelerometry
  • Cognitive functioning
  • Global positioning system (GPS)
  • Health
  • Older adults
  • Outdoor time
  • Physical activity
  • Physical functioning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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