The association between retirement and age on physical activity in older adults

Age Ageing. 2014 May;43(3):386-93. doi: 10.1093/ageing/aft168. Epub 2013 Oct 29.


Background: retirement is a major life change that is likely to affect lifestyles and yet little is still known about its influence on physical activity (PA). This study objectively quantified sedentary behaviour and ambulatory activity outcomes in retired and non-retired older, community-dwelling adults.

Methods: PA was quantified in 98 community-dwelling older adults (69.1 ± 7.6 years) who wore an activPAL PA monitor (accelerometer) for seven consecutive days. Outcomes representing the volume, pattern and variability of sedentary behaviour and ambulatory activity were derived from the cross-sectional accelerometer data. The association between retirement, ageing and their interaction on sedentary and ambulatory outcomes were examined.

Results: being retired was associated with a reduced percentage of sedentary behaviour; reduced long bouts of sitting (>55 min) and increased the percentage of ambulatory activity. The volume of sedentary behaviour increased with age, whereas ambulatory activity reduced with age. Measures of pattern and variability did not change with retirement or age. With respect to recommended amounts of PA, there was no difference between retired and employed adults and only 21% achieved the recommended 150 min/week (accumulated in ≥10 min bouts of walking).

Conclusion: while retirement was associated with a greater volume of PA, most older adults do not meet current recommended PA guidelines. Interventions are needed to increase PA in older adults in the years leading to and after the transition to retirement.

Keywords: accelerometer; ageing; ambulatory activity; older adults; physical activity; retirement; sedentary behaviour.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accelerometry / methods
  • Accelerometry / statistics & numerical data
  • Activities of Daily Living / psychology
  • Age Factors*
  • Aged
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Employment* / psychology
  • Employment* / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Independent Living / psychology
  • Independent Living / statistics & numerical data
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Monitoring, Ambulatory / methods
  • Motor Activity*
  • Retirement* / psychology
  • Retirement* / statistics & numerical data
  • Sedentary Behavior
  • United Kingdom