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Soz Praventivmed. 2005;50(4):218-29.

Physical activity of adults aged 50 years and older in Switzerland.

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  • 1Swiss Health Observatory Neuchâtel, Switzerland.



This study explores the prevalence of guideline-compliant physical activity (PA) behavior based on socio-demographic, health-related and environmental variables.


Cross-sectional data of the Swiss Health Survey 2002 were used in a Swiss population segment aged 50+. Four categories of PA were created with respect to Swiss and US guidelines: "moderate sports/exercise", "vigorous sports/exercise", "habitual PA", and "optimal PA" (i.e. combined variable used when both "vigorous sports/exercise" and "habitual PA" apply). Sedentary lifestyle was a fifth category.


In the total sample considered for analysis (N = 8405) the prevalence of guideline-compliant PA was: 9.1% moderate sports/exercise; 18.2% vigorous sports/exercise; 45% habitual PA; 8.7% optimal PA. Almost 50% of the age groups 65-79 and 80+ were involved in habitual PA. Higher socio-economic status was associated with involvement in moderate sports/exercise, vigorous sports/exercise, or optimal PA. In contrast, lower socioeconomic status was associated with habitual PA. While living in an urban or rural environment had no differentiating effect on sports/exercise, living in rural areas was associated with a sedentary lifestyle and little involvement in habitual PA and/or optimal PA. Self-reported good health and/or health orientation were associated with vigorous sports/exercise, habitual PA and optimal PA, regardless of whether the person had chronic health problems or not.


Habitual PA seems to have the greatest potential for increasing overall guideline-compliant activity levels. A behavioral/cognitive and political/environmental approach to improving PA is suggested.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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