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Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2003 Feb;13(1):63-9.

Physical activity in an ageing population.

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  • 1Department of Geriatric Medicine, Medical Centre, Copenhagen University Hospital, Bispebjerg, Bispebjerg Bakke 23, DK2400 Copenhagen, Denmark.


This review over previously published articles, describes physical activity changes during ageing from age 50-85 in the 1914-cohort in Glostrup, Denmark, and analyses the association between physical activity and mortality, myocardial infarction, hip fractures and functional ability. The 1914-cohort in Glostrup was examined at age 50 in 1964 and re-examined 1974, 1984, 1989, 1994 and 1999. Some analyses were based on pooled data (CCPPS: Copenhagen Centre for Prospective Population Studies) from three longitudinal population studies conducted in Copenhagen, Denmark: The Copenhagen County Centre for Preventive Medicine in Glostrup, The Copenhagen City Heart Study and The Copenhagen Male Study. Physical activity of work and leisure time was classified into four levels based on questions originally constructed by Saltin and Grimby.


all-cause mortality, fatal and non-fatal myocardial infarction, hip fracture and functional ability (Avlund mobility index of dependency). The lifetime risk from a sedentary leisure time was analysed in multivariate regression analyses controlling for covariates describing gender, age, life style, education and chronic diseases. Less than one third of the population had a sedentary leisure time. Physical activity definitely influenced health and quality of life over the life course in a positive way: compared to the group of inactive men and women, the mortality was about 60%, the incidence of myocardial infarction 70% and the incidence of hip fractures 75% in the moderate active groups. On top the physically active persons gained independency in activities of daily living.

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