Low-intensity walking activity is associated with better health

Vijay R. Varma, Erwin J. Tan, Tao Wang, Qian Li Xue, Linda P. Fried, Christopher L. Seplaki, Abby C. King, Teresa E. Seeman, George W. Rebok, Michelle C. Carlson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Recommended levels of physical activity may represent challenging targets for many older adults at risk for disability, leading to the importance of evaluating whether low-intensity activity is associated with health benefits. We examined the cross-sectional association between low-intensity walking activity (<100 steps/min) and health and physical function in a group of older adults. Participants (N = 187; age = 66.8; 91.4% African American; 76.5% female) wore a StepWatch Activity Monitor to measure components of low-intensity walking activity. Only 7% of participants met physical activity guidelines and moderate-intensity activity (≥100 steps/min) contributed only 10% of the total steps/day and 2% of the total min/day. Greater amount, frequency, and duration of low-intensity activity were associated with better self-report and performance-based measures of physical function, better quality of life, and fewer depressive symptoms (ps <.05). The cross-sectional relationship between low-intensity activity and health outcomes important to independent function suggests that we further explore the longitudinal benefits of low-intensity activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)870-887
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Applied Gerontology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 1 2014


  • African Americans
  • low-intensity activity
  • mobility
  • physical activity
  • walking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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