SOURCE: AGING IN ACTION
Physical activity is an important aspect of healthy aging. It encourages overall well-being and mental health, and helps reduce the risk of falls and of functional impairment. Research on physical activity has made important contributions to our understanding of aging, and continued research will be crucial for informing individuals and developing programs to encourage physical activity.
Physical activity is most often assessed by self-report questionnaire, but it is becoming increasingly apparent that individuals tend to do a poor job of accurately recording and reporting the amount of physical activity they perform. For this reason, it is important to develop objective measures of activity that can be used in research involving older adults. A recent review of active aging literature summarizes the findings on accelerometer-based research involving older adults.
An accelerometer is a device that measures force resulting from movement. In research, these can be placed fairly unobtrusively on research participants to record the duration, frequency, and intensity of their motion. Accelerometer-based measures seem potentially more useful than other measures such as pedometers that can only count steps, or other devices like video cameras or motion sensors that can only record motion in a specific area.
For this review, researchers sought out all peer-reviewed, English-language papers that used accelerometer-based activity monitoring with samples of older adults. The researchers excluded papers that had a sample size of less than ten participants, or were exclusively laboratory-based or sleep monitoring studies. In all, the researchers identified 134 studies for their review.
Link to full article: What Can Accelerometer Research Show about Active Aging?
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