Factors associated with physical activity among older people--a population-based study

Prev Med. 2005 Jan;40(1):33-40. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2004.04.046.


Background: Regular physical activity improves survival and functional ability, and can improve quality of life. Few studies have examined factors associated with physical activity in older adults at a population level. This study examines factors associated with physical activity in the New South Wales (NSW) older population.

Methods: Data from a random survey of 8881 community-dwelling people aged 65+ years were examined. We used Cox's regression to analyze the influence of demographic, health, and social factors on physical activity. 'Adequate' physical activity was defined as at least 30 min of walking, moderate or vigorous activity on at least 5 days in the last week. Reported barriers to physical activity were also examined.

Results: Adequate physical activity was independently associated with sex (male), younger age, ability to travel independently, better physical functioning, lower psychological distress, rural residence, not having diabetes, adequate fruit and vegetable intake, and speaking a language other than English at home. No independent associations were found for good long distance eyesight, being a caregiver, living alone, age left school, employment status, fear of falling, or perception of neighborhood safety. Health problems were frequently reported barriers to physical activity.

Conclusions: About half of older adults report adequate physical activity. These results will inform strategies to promote physical activity among older people.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • New South Wales
  • Population Surveillance*
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Quality of Life
  • Risk Factors