The association of pain levels and low physical activity among older women

Thelma J. Mielenz, Jing Tian, Kevin D. Silverman, Adam M. Whalen, Sneha Kannoth, Laura L. Durbin, Alexander S. Perlmutter, Qian Li Xue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


There is an integral research gap regarding whether there is a relationship between pain levels and low physical activity among older women. This is a secondary analysis of a longitudinal cohort study, the Women’s Health and Aging Study (WHAS) II. Our analyses included 436 community-dwelling women between the ages of 70 and 79, who were followed for 10.5 years. We employed marginal structural modeling, which controls for time-dependent confounding, with the aim of assessing the potential direct association between pain levels and low physical activity and assess a graded relationship. Compared to women with no pain, those with widespread pain were nearly half as likely to be moderately active versus low active (aOR: 0.46, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.22, 0.96). A graded association was observed across the four pain levels (no pain or mild pain, other pain, moderate or severe lower extremity pain, and widespread pain) on low physical activity. Our findings indicate that reducing chronic widespread pain in older women may increase moderate physical activity, and therefore reduce the downstream health risks of low physical activity, including morbidity and mortality risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103
JournalGeriatrics (Switzerland)
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Chronic pain
  • Physical inactivity
  • Women’s health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Aging
  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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