Age-related decrease in physical activity and functional fitness among elderly men and women

Clin Interv Aging. 2013:8:549-56. doi: 10.2147/CIA.S44112. Epub 2013 May 21.


Aim: To determine differences in physical activity level and functional fitness between young elderly (60-69 years) and old elderly (70-80 years) people with the hypothesis that an age-related decline would be found.

Methods: A total of 1288 participants' level of physical activity was evaluated using the International Physical Activity Questionnaire: 594 were male (mean ± standard deviation: body height 175.62 ± 9.78 cm; body weight 82.26 ± 31.33 kg) and 694 female (mean ± standard deviation: body height 165.17 ± 23.12 cm; body weight 69.74 ± 12.44 kg). Functional fitness was also estimated using the Senior Fitness Test: back scratch, chair sit and reach, 8-foot up and go, chair stand up for 30 seconds, arm curl, and 2-minute step test.

Results: Significant differences (P < 0.05) were found for all Senior Fitness tests between young elderly (60-69 years) and old elderly (70-80) men. Similar results were found for the women, except no significant differences were found for the chair sit and reach and the 2-minute step test. From the viewpoint of energy consumption estimated by the International Physical Activity Questionnaire, moderate physical activity is dominant. In addition, with aging, among men and women older than 60 years, the value of the Metabolic Equivalent of Task in total physical activity significantly reduces (P < 0.05).

Conclusions: This study found that the reduction in physical activity level and functional fitness was equal for both men and women and was due to the aging process. These differences between young and old elderly people were due to the reduction of muscle strength in both upper and lower limbs and changes in body-fat percentage, flexibility, agility, and endurance.

Keywords: aging; functional capacity; older adult; strength.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Anthropometry
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Physical Fitness / physiology*
  • Sex Factors
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Surveys and Questionnaires