Association between hearing impairment and lower levels of physical activity in older adults

Fiona E. Gispen, David S. Chen, Dane J. Genther, Frank R. Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Objectives To determine whether hearing impairment, highly prevalent in older adults, is associated with activity levels. Design Cross-sectional. Setting National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (2005-06). Participants Individuals aged 70 and older who completed audiometric testing and whose physical activity was assessed subjectively using questionnaires and objectively using body-worn accelerometers (N = 706). Measurements Hearing impairment was defined according to the speech-frequency (0.5-4 kHz) pure-tone average in the better-hearing ear (normal <25.0 dB, mild 25.0-39.9 dB, moderate or greater ≥40 dB). Main outcome measures were self-reported leisure time physical activity and accelerometer-measured physical activity. Both were quantified using minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity and categorized as inactive, insufficiently active, or sufficiently active. Ordinal logistic regression analyses were conducted and adjusted for demographic and cardiovascular risk factors. Results Individuals with moderate or greater hearing impairment had greater odds than those with normal hearing of being in a lower category of physical activity as measured according to self-report (OR = 1.59, 95% CI = 1.11-2.28) and accelerometry (OR = 1.70, 95% CI = 0.99-2.91). Mild hearing impairment was not associated with level of physical activity. Conclusion Moderate or greater hearing impairment in older adults is associated with lower levels of physical activity independent of demographic and cardiovascular risk factors. Future research is needed to investigate the basis of this association and whether hearing rehabilitative interventions could affect physical activity in older adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1427-1433
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2014


  • epidemiology
  • hearing impairment
  • older adults
  • physical activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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