Association of day length and weather conditions with physical activity levels in older community dwelling people.

MD Witham, PT Donnan, T Vadiveloo, FF Sniehotta, Iain K Crombie, Z Feng, ME McMurdo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Weather is a potentially important determinant of physical activity. Little work has been done examining the relationship between weather and physical activity, and potential modifiers of any relationship in older people. We
therefore examined the relationship between weather and physical activity in a cohort of older community-dwelling people.
Methods: We analysed prospectively collected cross-sectional activity data from community-dwelling people aged 65 and over in the Physical Activity Cohort Scotland. We correlated seven day triaxial accelerometry data with daily weather data (temperature, day length, sunshine, snow, rain), and a series of potential effect modifiers were tested in mixed models: environmental variables (urban vs rural dwelling, percentage of green space), psychological variables (anxiety, depression, perceived behavioural control), social variables (number of close contacts) and health status measured using the SF-36 questionnaire.
Results: 547 participants, mean age 78.5 years, were included in this analysis. Higher minimum daily temperature and longer day length were associated with higher activity levels; these associations remained robust to adjustment for other
significant associates of activity: age, perceived behavioural control, number of social contacts and physical function. Of the potential effect modifier variables, only urban vs rural dwelling and the SF-36 measure of social functioning enhanced the association between day length and activity; no variable modified the association between minimum temperature and activity.
Conclusions: In older community dwelling people, minimum temperature and day length were associated with objectively measured activity. There was little evidence for moderation of these associations through potentially modifiable health, environmental, social or psychological variables
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere85331
Number of pages9
JournalPloS ONE
Issue number1
Early online date30 Jan 2014
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2014


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