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Prev Med. 2006 Sep;43(3):226-9. Epub 2006 Jun 5.

Leisure-time exercise and overall physical activity in older women caregivers and non-caregivers from the Caregiver-SOF Study.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology, Boston University School of Public Health, 715 Albany Street, MA 02118, USA.



Elderly caregivers report less leisure-time physical activity than same-aged non-caregivers. However, through caregiving tasks, caregivers may be as physically active as non-caregivers. This study compared leisure-time exercise and overall physical activity in elderly women caregivers and non-caregivers.


The sample included 179 caregivers (153 cared for spouses and 26 for other relatives or friends) and 670 non-caregivers who were participants in the Study of Osteoporotic Fractures. Leisure-time exercise was based on respondents' report of walking for exercise or other regular exercise at least once a week. High overall physical activity included leisure-time exercise or being in the top quartile of walking and climbing stairs during one's daily routine.


Leisure-time exercise was lower in spouse caregivers (adjusted odds ratio (OR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.64, 0.41-1.00) and non-spouse caregivers (OR = 0.39, 95% CI = 0.16-0.95) than married non-caregivers. Differences in overall physical activity between caregivers and married non-caregivers were smaller and not statistically significant. Caregivers who climbed stairs at least 15 min/day during caregiving tasks reported more overall physical activity than non-caregivers (OR = 4.06, 95% CI = 1.23-13.36).


Studies comparing physical activity in caregivers and non-caregivers should assess activities performed during routine caregiving tasks.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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