Self-Reported Physical Activity in Middle-Aged and Older Adults in Rural South Africa: Levels and Correlates

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Aug 31;17(17):6325. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17176325.


Little is known about physical activity (PA) levels and correlates in adults from rural settings in South Africa, where a rapid increase in the number of older people and marked disparities in wealth are evident, particularly between those living in rural and urban areas. This paper describes levels of self-reported PA in rural South African men and women and examines factors associated with meeting PA guidelines. Global Physical Activity Questionnaire (GPAQ) data from the Health and Aging in Africa: Longitudinal studies of INDEPTH communities (HAALSI) survey of 5059 adults aged over 40 years were assessed. Logistic regression analyses were used to assess socio-demographic, functional and cognitive capacity, and chronic disease measures associated with PA. In addition, 75.4% (n = 3421) of the participants with valid GPAQ data (n = 4538 of 5059) met the PA guidelines. Factors associated with not the meeting PA guidelines were being male, over the age of 80 years, being in a higher wealth category, obesity, and poorer functional capacity. These findings highlight worthwhile targets for future interventions to maintain or improve PA levels in this population and suggest that intervening earlier within this age range (from 40 years) may be crucial to prevent the 'spiral of decline' that characterizes the frailty syndrome.

Keywords: aging; elderly; functional capacity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Frail Elderly
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Rural Population
  • Self Report*
  • South Africa / epidemiology