Still Game: Examining relationships between social activity, physical activity, Neuroticism, anxiety and depression in an elderly cohort.
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There are increasing numbers of elders in the UK population, a large proportion of which suffer from mental health problems, anxiety and depression being most prevalent (Age Concern England 2007) and perhaps qualitatively different in elders than younger adults (Wetherell, Gatz and Pedersen 2001). The author examined the relationship of social and physical activity with levels of the stable personality trait of Neuroticism, anxiety and depression in the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936, a large cross-sectional cohort of uniformly elderly participants ( N= 1091, M age=69.6, SD= 0.83). On the same occasion, participants completed self-report questionnaire measures regarding the afore mentioned variables. Principle components analysis of the social activities questionnaire demonstrated a common social activity factor. Via a series of stepwise multiple regression models, social and physical activity were seen to significantly predict, to a small extent, depression but not anxiety levels. This was independent of the moderate significant predictive relationship of Neuroticism with anxiety and depression and the significant predictive relationship of social and physical activity with Neuroticism. The author concludes that depression, common in the elderly, may be a less stable condition than anxiety and hence particularly amenable to the influence of intervention strategies aimed at increasing social and physical activity.