Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Jan Mutchler

Second Advisor

Jeffrey Burr

Third Advisor

Tongjian You


This study examined the longitudinal relationship between physical activity (PA) participation (including exercise based physical activity (EPA) & non-exercise based physical activity (NEPA)) and a series of health outcome measures, including mortality, among a large sample of randomly selected older adults aged 80 years or above in China. Study data were drawn from four waves (seven years) of the Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Survey (CLHLS). The growth model findings showed that activity participation (EPA and/or NEPA) had long-lasting effects on the level and the rate of change in cognitive function and subjective well-being in the latest stages of the life course. Individuals who participated in EPA, NEPA, or both activities had significantly better cognitive function and subjective well-being (SWB) scores at baseline. Active older adults showed a slower cognitive decline and a faster rate of improvement in SWB over time. The protective effects of EPA, outdoor activity, gardening, caring for animals, or household work against cognitive decline were also significant while EPA and outdoor activity participation were associated with faster increase rate in SWB over time. Moreover, survival models showed that older adults who participated in EPA, NEPA, or both activities, had significantly lower risks of mortality compared with sedentary older adults. The findings made a unique contribution to the emerging interests of conducting longitudinal studies among the oldest-old population. This study validated that the benefits of EPA and NEPA participation can be extended to the oldest-old population. This study also highlighted the effects of specific non-exercise types of activity (household work, outdoor activities, gardening, and caring for pets) on mortality, cognitive function and SWB which have not been demonstrated well in previous research.


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