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Does physical activity reduce seniors' need for healthcare?: a study of 24 281 Canadians
  1. John C Woolcott1,
  2. Maureen C Ashe1,
  3. William C Miller1,
  4. Peilin Shi2,
  5. Carlo A Marra1,
  6. PACC Research Team
  1. 1University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
  2. 2Aging Brain Center, Institute for Aging Research, Hebrew SeniorLife, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  1. Correspondence to Carlo Marra, 620-1081 Burrard Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V6Z 1Y6; cmarra{at}


Objectives Physical inactivity has been associated with significant increases in disease morbidity and mortality. This study assessed the association between physical activity and (1) health resource use and (2) health resource use costs.

Design and Participants The responses from 24 281 respondents >65 years to the Canadian Community Health Survey Cycle 1.1 were used to find activity levels and determine health resource use and costs. Logistic regression models were used to assess risks of hospitalisation.

Results Physical inactivity was associated with statistically significant increases to hospitalisations, lengths of stay and healthcare visits (p<0.01). Average healthcare costs (based on the 2007 value of the Canadian dollar) for the physically inactive were $C1214.15 higher than the healthcare costs of the physically active ($C2005.27 vs $C791.12, p<0.01).

Conclusion Among those >65 years, physical activity is strongly associated with reduced health resource use and costs.

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  • Competing interest None.

  • Funding This research was supported (in part) by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Team Development Grant (M.C.A., W.C.M. and C.A.M.), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (J.C.W., W.C.M. and C.A.M.), the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Services Research (J.C.W., M.C.A. and C.A.M.), the Canadian Arthritis Network (C.A.M.) and the Canada Research Chair in Pharmaceutical Outcomes (C.A.M.).

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with ethics approval obtained from the University of British Columbia.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.