Physical Activity Benefits of Living with Others
Background: There is limited information on the effects of social support on activity behaviors in those with COPD.
Study: Dr. Chen and colleagues at the University of Washington in Seattle examined the association between a person’s social support and smoking, physical activity, participating in pulmonary rehabilitation, and using inhalers as prescribed in patients with COPD. The researchers collected information at the start of the study (called baseline) and one and two years later. Participants were recruited from one academic medical center and two Veterans Affairs (VA) health care systems.
Subjects answered questions and wore an activity monitor on the ankle during waking hours for 7 days at each time period.
The study was published in the September 2017 issue of the journal Annals of the American Thoracic Society, volume 14; pages 1419-1427.
Results: Information was collected on 282 subjects at baseline and on 225 subjects after two years. Average age was 68 years, and 80% of subjects were men. Total steps per day at baseline were 6,002, and at two years were 5,528.
Main findings were: 1. Those with COPD who were living with others walked 903 more steps per day compared with those who lived alone. 2. The odds of participating in pulmonary rehabilitation were more than 11 times higher if an individual with COPD had a spouse or partner caregiver compared with not having a caregiver. 3. Social support was not associated with receiving the flu shot or taking inhaler medications as prescribed.
Conclusions: The authors concluded that the social environment (such as living with others) was critical in shaping success with physical activity, including steps walked per day and participating in a pulmonary rehabilitation program.
My Comments: Having a spouse/partner or living with others has direct benefits as shown in this study. Other studies have demonstrated that having a network of supportive relationships contributes to psychological well-being. When you have a social support network, you benefit in the following ways:
- Sense of belonging. Spending time with people helps ward off loneliness. Whether it’s family members, dog lovers, fishing buddies, or playing cards with a group – you know that you are not alone. This can help to cope with stress.
- Increased sense of self-worth. Having people who call you a friend reinforces the idea that you’re a good person to be around.
- Feeling of security. Your social network gives you access to information, advice, guidance and other types of assistance should you need them. It’s comforting to know that you have people you can turn to in a time of need.