The association between social participation and lower extremity muscle strength, balance, and gait speed in US adults

Meghan Warren, Kathleen J. Ganley, Patricia S. Pohl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Social participation is associated with healthy aging, and although associations have been reported between social participation and demographics, no published studies have examined a relationship between social participation and measures amenable to intervention. The purpose was to explore the association between self-reported social participation and lower extremity strength, balance, and gait speed. A cross-sectional analysis of US adults (n = 2291; n = 1,031 males; mean ± standard deviation age 63.5 ± 0.3 years) from the 2001-2 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey was conducted. Two questions about self-reported difficulty with social participation were categorized into limited (yes/no). The independent variables included knee extension strength (n = 1537; classified as tertiles of weak, normal, and strong), balance (n = 1813; 3 tests scored as pass/fail), and gait speed (n = 2025; dichotomized as slow [less than 1.0 m/s] and fast [greater than or equal to 1.0 m/s]). Logistic regression, accounting for the complex survey design and adjusting for age, sex, physical activity, and medical conditions, was used to estimate the odds of limitation in social participation with each independent variable. Alpha was decreased to 0.01 due to multiple tests. Slower gait speed was significantly associated with social participation limitation (odds ratio = 3.1; 99% confidence interval: 1.5-6.2). No significant association was found with social participation and lower extremity strength or balance. The odds of having limitation in social participation were 3 times greater in those with slow gait speed. Prospective studies should examine the effect of improved gait speed on levels of social participation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)142-147
Number of pages6
JournalPreventive Medicine Reports
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016


  • Healthy aging
  • Quality of life
  • Walking speed

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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