Influences of Social and Built Environments on Physical Activity in Middle-Aged and Older Adults
With advancing age come physiological changes that result in loss of muscle mass, which leads to progressive weakening in strength, endurance, and balance, as well as cardiopulmonary and cognitive function (Spirduso, Francis, & MacRae, 2005). Declines in body systems attributable to aging, accompanied by unhealthy lifestyles (physical inactivity, poor diet, substance use) ultimately become risk factors for developing various chronic health conditions such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, and mental distress (National Center for Health Statistics [NCHS], 2007). Currently, chronic diseases are the leading causes of death for US adults aged 65 or older (Centers for Disease Control and The Merck Company Foundation, 2007). Approximately 80 % of older Americans are living with at least one chronic condition, and 50 % have at least two (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2003). Chronic diseases in older adults can lead to disability and limitations in daily activities (NCHS, 2007), thus reducing health-related quality of life and independence (CDC and Merck, 2007). At the social level, this increases the burden on the nation’s health care system, with a projected average increase of 7 % each year from 2010 to 2018 in Medicare spending (Thorpe, Ogden, & Galactionnova, 2010) and an increase of 25 % in health care spending by 2030 (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality [AHRQ] & CDC, 2002).
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