Population based study of social and productive activities as predictors of survival among elderly Americans

Thomas A. Glass, Carlos Mendes De Leon, Richard A. Marottoli, Lisa F. Berkman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

619 Scopus citations


Objectives. To examine any association between social, productive, and physical activity and 13 year survival in older people. Design. Prospective cohort study with annual mortality follow up. Activity and other measures were assessed by structured interviews at baseline in the participants' homes. Proportional hazards models were used to model survival from time of initial interview. Setting. City of New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Participants. 2761 men and women from a random population sample of 2812 people aged 65 and older. Main outcome measure. Mortality from all causes during 13 years of follow up. Results. All three types of activity were independently associated with survival after age, sex, race/ethnicity, marital status, income, body mass index, smoking, functional disability, and history of cancer, diabetes, stroke, and myocardial infarction were controlled for. Conclusions. Social and productive activities that involve little or no enhancement of fitness lower the risk of all cause mortality as much as fitness activities do. This suggests that in addition to increased cardiopulmonary fitness, activity may confer survival benefits through psychosocial pathways. Social and productive activities that require less physical exertion may complement exercise programmes and may constitute alternative interventions for frail elderly people.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)478-483
Number of pages6
JournalBritish medical journal
Issue number7208
StatePublished - Aug 21 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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