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J Sports Sci. 2004 Aug;22(8):703-25.

Physical activity and older adults: a review of health benefits and the effectiveness of interventions.

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  • 1School of Sport and Health Sciences, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK.


The purpose of this multidisciplinary review paper is to critically review evidence from descriptive, efficacy and effectiveness studies concerned with physical activity and older people. Both levels of fitness (aerobic power, strength, flexibility and functional capability) and measures of physical activity involvement decline with age, and the extent to which this is due to a biological ageing processes or disuse (physical inactivity) is critically examined. The review will consider the evidence for a causal relationship between sedentary behaviour/physical activity programmes and cardiovascular, musculoskeletal and psycho-social health, independent living and health-related quality of life into old age. The review also considers the effectiveness of different physical activity interventions for older people and issues relating to cost-effectiveness. The implications for future policy in terms of research, health care services, and education and training are briefly discussed.

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