Background: Physical inactivity is a health issue that often occurs after serious disaster. Social factors, which can be disrupted by disaster, are important determinants of physical activity levels in everyday living. This study was designed to confirm the association between social factors and physical activity among elderly survivors of the Great East Japan Earthquake. Methods: From September 2011 to February 2012, 4316 males and females aged 65 or older participated in a health survey of Great East Japan Earthquake survivors. Multiple logistic regression analyses were performed with the dichotomous dependent variable of physical activity (high versus low) and working status, social network, and place of residence (one's own home versus elsewhere) as independent variables. Results: Participants who had been displaced from their homes were more likely to have low physical activity (odds ratio [OR], 95 % confidence interval [CI] for men: 1.37, 1.12 to 1.68; for women: 1.30, 1.09 to 1.55). Non-working status was significantly associated with low physical activity (men: 2.03, 1.65 to 2.49; women: 1.94, 1.60 to 2.34). Detriments to the social network were significantly associated with low physical activity (men: 1.71, 1.41 to 2.08; women: 1.79, 1.51 to 2.13). Conclusion: Place of residence and social factors were associated with physical activity levels in elderly survivors of the Great East Japan Earthquake. The findings suggest a need for improvement of social factors to encourage increases in physical activity for elderly persons after disaster.
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