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2015 HSR&D/QUERI National Conference Abstract

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3142 — Predictors of Vigorous Physical Activity among Veterans Who Served in Support of Recent Conflicts

Bathulapalli H, VA West Haven; Driscoll MA, VA West Haven; Buta E, VA West Haven; Brandt CA, VA West Haven; Haskell S, VA West Haven; Goulet J, VA West Haven;

Objectives:
Civilian studies suggest that being male, lower BMI, lower depression level, greater pain severity, and higher social support are associated with engagement in physical activity. Few investigations have examined these associations among Veterans. The current study examines predictors of vigorous physical activity (VPA) and whether their effect varies by gender.

Methods:
Participants included 666 Veterans (55% female; 67% white) who served in support of recent conflicts and responded to a survey as part of their participation in the Women Veterans Cohort Study (WVCS). Respondents who answered questions assessing VPA (binary indicator of engagement in VPA at least once a week), pain (BPI Severity), depressive symptoms (PHQ-9), and social support (MOS), and for whom BMI and age could be obtained, were retained in analyses (N = 313, 55% females). Multivariable logistic regression analyses were used to assess correlates of VPA.

Results:
The mean age of the sample was 34(SD = 11) and 174(56%) subjects reported VPA. In a model with main effects only, higher BMI (adjusted OR = 0.89, 95% CI 0.85-0.94 for 1-unit increase) and greater depression (OR = 0.95, 95% CI 0.91-0.99 for 1-unit increase) were associated with lower VPA. There was no evidence of VPA being associated with gender (p = 0.07) or social support (p = 0.27). A model with gender interactions showed that the association between pain and VPA varied as a function of gender (p = 0.01); for men only, higher pain was associated with decreased odds of engaging in vigorous activity (OR = 0.69 95%CI 0.54-0.87).

Implications:
Results were largely consistent with civilian findings suggesting that lower BMI and depressive symptoms are associated with greater physical activity, and that pain is a significant barrier to exercise for men relative to women. Contrary to previous findings, being male and social support was not significantly associated with VPA.

Impacts:
Research suggests that exercise and physical activity are associated with better quality of life and health outcomes. Efforts to address pain as a barrier to exercise in men may improve engagement in VPA.