Characterization of Physical Activity and its Association with Self-Rated Health among a Large Homeless Population



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Background: Homelessness affects approximately 6 percent of the United States population, which is known to have multiple health disparities potentially affected by lack of physical activity. Here we characterize physical activity and its association with self-rated health among a large sample of homeless adults. Methods: Homeless adult participants recruited from Dallas and Oklahoma (N=711, 66.4% men, Mage = 43.6+12) self-reported quantity and frequency of physical activity in minutes using items from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Physical Activity Questionnaire. Based on the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Self-rated health was assessed with an item asking participants to rate their health in general (excellent/very good/good vs. fair/poor). Associations between variables were examined using biserial correlations adjusted for age, sex, race, education, weight status, number of months homeless, at-risk drinking, serious mental illness, smoking status, and recruitment site. Results: On average, participants reported 812.9+1459.8 minutes (13.5+24 hours) of physical activity a week and 34.2% of the sample reported fair/poor health. Physical activity was negatively associated with fair/poor health (p=.0036). Discussion: Results suggest that physical activity promotion may hold promise for improvement of overall health within an adult homeless population.