Age-related differences in physical activity levels of young adults

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2001 Feb;33(2):255-8. doi: 10.1097/00005768-200102000-00014.


Purpose: To examine age-related differences in the physical activity behaviors of young adults.

Methods: We examined rates of participation in vigorous- and moderate-intensity leisure-time activity and walking, as well as an index of physical activity sufficient for health benefits in three Australian cross-sectional samples, for the age ranges of 18--19, 20--24, and 25--29 yr. Data were collected in 1991, 1996, and 1997/8.

Results: There was at least a 15% difference in vigorous-intensity leisure-time physical activity from the 18--19 yr to the 25--29 yr age groups, and at least a 10% difference in moderate-intensity leisure-time physical activity. For the index of sufficient activity there was a difference between 9 and 21% across age groups. Differences in rates of walking were less than 8%. For all age groups, males had higher rates of participation for vigorous and moderate-intensity activity than did females, but females had much higher rates of participation in walking than males. Age-associated differences in activity levels were more apparent for males.

Conclusions: Promoting walking and various forms of moderate-intensity physical activities to young adult males, and encouraging young adult females to adopt other forms of moderate-intensity activity to complement walking may help to ameliorate decreases in physical activity over the adult lifespan.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Physical Fitness*
  • Recreation
  • Walking*