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Keywords:

  • mobility limitation;
  • participation;
  • physical functioning;
  • activity;
  • aging

Objectives

To study the relationship between physical performance and sense of autonomy in outdoor activities with life-space mobility—the spatial area a person purposefully moves through in daily life—in community-dwelling older people.

Design

Cross-sectional analyses of baseline data of the Life-Space Mobility in Old Age cohort study.

Setting

Structured interviews in participants' homes.

Participants

Community-dwelling people aged 75 to 90 (N = 848).

Measurements

Sense of autonomy outdoors (Impact on Participation and Autonomy questionnaire subscale), life-space mobility (Life-Space Assessment; University of Alabama, Birmingham Study of Aging), and Short Physical Performance Battery.

Results

The median score for life-space mobility was 64.0. In linear regression models, poorer physical performance and more-limited sense of autonomy were independently associated with more restrictions in life-space mobility, explaining approximately one-third of the variation in life-space mobility. Physical performance also had an indirect effect on life-space mobility through sense of autonomy outdoors. Subgroup analyses of 5-year age groups and sex revealed that the associations were somewhat stronger in women and the oldest age group.

Conclusion

Physical performance and sense of autonomy in outdoor activities explained a substantial portion of the variation in life-space mobility in healthy older people, indicating that physical and psychosocial factors play a role in maintaining mobility in old age.