Background and Objective: This study aimed to examine the differences in body composition, physical activity level, physical fitness, and bone mineral density (BMD) among elderly individuals who lived alone and those who lived with their spouses.
Material and Methods: A total of 136 elderly individuals, older than 65 years (63 males and 73 females) were surveyed according to whether they lived alone or with their spouses, age, and sex. Body mass index and percentage body fat were also measured, as well as 7 days of physical activities of daily life by accelerometer. The physical fitness test consisted of 6 minutes walking for cardiorespiratory fitness and grip strength and leg strength for muscular strength. BMD and T-score were measured by sonography at the calcaneus. Independent t-test was used to examine the group difference according to the living status with spouse by gender.
Results: First, in body composition, elderly females who lived alone showed higher percentage body fat compared with elderly females who lived with their spouses (p=0.010). Second, regarding total physical activity, elderly males and females who lived alone showed significantly lower calorie consumption during daily physical activity compared with elderly males and females who lived with their spouses (p<0.05). Particularly, elderly males and females who lived alone showed significantly lower high intensity (p=0.045) and moderate intensity (p=0.015) physical activity time, respectively. Third, regarding fitness, elderly males and females who lived alone showed significantly lower upper and lower limb strength compared with elderly males and females who lived with their spouse (p<0.05), but there was no difference in cardiovascular endurance (p>0.05). Fourth, regarding BMD, only elderly males who lives alone showed significantly lower BMD and T-score (p<0.05). There was no significant difference in BMD and T-score among elderly females who lived alone and those who lived with their spouses (p>0.05).
Conclusion: Elderly individuals who lived alone showed lower physical activity levels, strength, and BMD level as well as higher percentage body fat. An exercise and physical activity program for elderly individual who live alone should be developed to improve percent body fat, strength and BMD.