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Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 101, Issue 5, pp 385–389 | Cite as

A Short Walk a Day Shortens the Hospital Stay: Physical Activity and the Demand for Hospital Services for Older Adults

  • Nazmi SariEmail author
Quantitative Research

Abstract

Objectives

To estimate the impact of increased physical activity on utilization of hospital services among older adults in Canada.

Methods

The paper uses the Canadian Community Health Survey Cycle 2.1, and count data regression models. The study sample includes 18,196 adults aged 65 and above. Specification tests are used in order to identify the appropriate count data model, and sensitivity analyses are conducted to check the robustness of the results.

Results

The paper shows that physical activity is negatively associated with the probability of staying in the hospital as well as the numbers of hospital stay among users. However, the potential gain decreases as current activity level increases. The results also imply that an additional 20-minute daily walk by inactive older Canadians would decrease total hospital stays by about 2% of the total annual inpatient days. This is equivalent to 1.2% of total hospital bed capacity in a given year.

Conclusions

Health promotion efforts to increase the level of activity among older adults may create significant savings for the health care system. The total potential gain from additional physical activity is substantial, especially for those who are inactive. However, these gains can be materialized if people stay active enough to derive positive health benefits of physical activity. These results, therefore, should be evaluated in the light of findings from related literature on health and physical activity.

Key words

Physical activity hospital services exercise aging 

Résumé

Objectifs

Estimer l’impact d’une hausse de l’activité physique sur l’utilisation des services hospitaliers par les personnes âgées au Canada.

Méthode

Nous avons utilisé le cycle 2.1 de l’Enquête sur la santé dans les collectivités canadiennes et des modèles de régression avec données chiffrées. L’échantillon comprend 18 196 adultes de 65 ans et plus. Nous avons mené des essais de spécification pour trouver le modèle approprié et des analyses de sensibilité pour vérifier la robustesse des résultats.

Résultats

L’activité physique est associée négativement à la probabilité d’un séjour à l’hôpital et au nombre de séjours à l’hôpital chez les utilisateurs. Toutefois, le gain potentiel diminue avec la hausse du niveau d’activité actuel. On déduit que 20 minutes de marche de plus par jour chez les Canadiens âgés sédentaires diminueraient d’environ 2 % le nombre de séjours à l’hôpital. C’est l’équivalent de 1,2 % de la capacité totale en lits d’hôpitaux pour une année donnée.

Conclusion

Les efforts de promotion de la santé qui visent à augmenter le niveau d’activité des personnes âgées pourraient générer des économies importantes pour le système de santé. Les gains potentiels totaux d’une hausse de l’activité physique sont considérables, surtout chez les sédentaires. Ces gains peuvent se concrétiser si les gens restent suffisamment actifs pour améliorer leur santé. Ces résultats devraient donc être évalués à la lumière des constatations des travaux connexes publiés sur la santé et l’activité physique.

Mots clés

activité physique service hospitalier exercice physique vieillissement 

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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economics & SPHERUUniversity of SaskatchewanSaskatoonCanada

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