Physical Performance and Physical Activity in Older Adults: Associated but Separate Domains of Physical Function in Old AgeReport as inadecuate

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Physical function is a crucial factor in the prevention and treatment of health conditions in older adults and is usually measured objectively with physical performance tests and-or physical activity monitoring.


To examine whether 1 physical performance PP and physical activity PA constitute separate domains of physical function; 2 differentiation of PA classes is more informative than overall PA.


Cross-sectional study to explore the relationships within and among PP and PA measures.


In 49 older participants 83±7 years; M±SD, performance-based tests were conducted and PA was measured for one week. Activity monitor data were reduced in terms of duration, periods, and mean duration of periods of lying, sitting, standing and locomotion. The relation between and within PP scores and PA outcomes were analysed using rank order correlation and factor analysis.


Factor structure after varimax rotation revealed two orthogonal factors explaining 78% of the variance in the data: one comprising all PA variables and one comprising all PP variables. PP scores correlated moderately with PA in daily life. Differentiation of activity types and quantification of their duration, intensity and frequency of occurrence provided stronger associations with PP, as compared to a single measure of acceleration expressing overall PA.


For independent validation, the conclusions about the validity of the presented conceptual framework and its clinical implications need to be confirmed in other studies.


PP and PA represent associated but separate domains of physical function, suggesting that an improvement of PP does not automatically imply an increase of PA, i.e. a change to a more active lifestyle. Differentiation of activity classes in the analysis of PA provides more insights into PA and its association with PP than using a single overall measure of acceleration.

Author: Rob C. van Lummel , Stefan Walgaard, Mirjam Pijnappels, Petra J. M. Elders, Judith Garcia-Aymerich, Jaap H. van Dieën, Peter J.



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