Physical activity benefits of attending a senior center depend largely on age and gender: A study using GPS and accelerometry data

Oriol Marquet*, Monika MacIejewska, Xavier Delclòs-Alió, Guillem Vich, Jasper Schipperijn, Carme Miralles-Guasch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Senior centers offer important opportunities for physical activity and social interaction. Seniors who visit a senior center regularly can gain physical activity from transportation and from specific activities offered within the senior center. However, there is very little knowledge regarding the specific physical activity gains obtained from regular visits to senior centers, and no effort has been made to use device-based measures of physical activity to test the potential physical activity benefits of attending a senior center. Methods: To fill this gap, the present study examined the physical activity patterns of 227 seniors living in the Barcelona Metropolitan Area in Spain. Using GPS and Accelerometer 7-day tracking data, and GIS measures we assessed the light physical activity and moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity (MVPA) benefits of attending the senior center on a weekly and daily basis. Results: Seniors who attended a senior center at least once a week did not accumulate significantly more daily physical activity (211.6 min; 95% CI 196.6; 226.6) than seniors without any visit 215.9 min; 95% CI 202.7; 229). However, on a day-to-day basis, it was found that visiting a senior center had positive effects in physical activity and was associated with less sedentary time among younger participants in general (-18.2 daily min 95% CI-33.2;-3.3 p = 0.016) and among older female participants in particular (-19.7 daily min 95% CI-21.06;-18.5 p = 0.011). Conclusions: The benefits of attending senior centers in terms of physical activity should not be viewed as universal, but rather as contingent to the demographics of the user, and the type of activity that the visit is replacing.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number134
JournalBMC Geriatrics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2020


  • Accelerometry
  • GPS tracking
  • MVPA
  • Physical activity
  • Senior center


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