Objective: To examine the prospective dose–response relationships between both leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) and walking with self-reported arthritis in older women.
Design, setting and participants: Data came from women aged 73–78 years who completed mailed surveys in 1999, 2002 and 2005 for the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health. Women reported their weekly minutes of walking and moderate to vigorous physical activities. They also reported on whether they had been diagnosed with, or treated for, arthritis since the previous survey. General estimating equation analyses were performed to examine the longitudinal relationship between LTPA and arthritis and, for women who reported walking as their only physical activity, the longitudinal relationship between walking and arthritis. Women who reported arthritis or a limited ability to walk in 1999 were excluded, resulting in data from 3613 women eligible for inclusion in these analyses.
Main results: ORs for self-reported arthritis were lowest for women who reported “moderate” levels of LTPA (OR 0.78; 95% CI 0.67 to 0.92), equivalent to 75 to <150 minutes of moderate-intensity LTPA per week. Slightly higher odds ratios were found for women who reported “high” (OR 0.81; 95% CI 0.69 to 0.95) or “very high” (OR 0.84; 95% CI 0.72 to 0.98) LTPA levels, indicating no further benefit from increased activity. For women whose only activity was walking, an inverse dose–response relationship between walking and arthritis was seen.
Conclusions: The results support an inverse association between both LTPA and walking with self-reported arthritis over 6 years in older women who are able to walk.
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Funding: We are grateful to the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing for funding of the ALSWH. Dr Heesch was supported by a NHMRC programme grant (Owen, Bauman and Brown; no. 301200) in Physical Activity and Health at The University of Queensland, School of Human Movement Studies. Funding sources had no role in this study.
Competing interests: None.
Ethics approval: The study protocol was approved by the University of Newcastle Ethics Committee.