Purpose: The present study hypothesized that simple, everyday physical activity (EPA) would decline with advancing age; that women would have a more favorable EPA profile than would men; and that EPA would have a survival benefit.
Design and methods: Community-dwelling participants (aged 80-98 years, n = 198) wore mechanical actigraphs in order for EPA to be assessed. Individuals were classified as active, inactive, and sedentary based on their level of EPA exhibited over a substantial part of the day. Survival status was available at approximately 2 years.
Results: Mean EPA scores decreased with advancing age and, in contrast to men, women in their early eighties appeared to be protected from declining EPA. This partially supported the hypothesis that women would have a more favorable EPA profile. What is most important is that mean EPA scores predicted mortality. Moreover, when compared with their less sedentary counterparts, sedentary adults were more than three times as likely to be deceased 2 years later.
Implications: Researchers need to conduct new trials to determine whether or how physical activity is associated with mortality.