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J Aging Health. 2008 Oct;20(7):767-87. doi: 10.1177/0898264308321081. Epub 2008 Jun 17.

Examining the association between education level and physical activity changes during early old age.

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  • 1Department of Health Policy, Management, and Behavior, School of Public Health, State University of New York at Albany, One University Place, Rensselaer, NY 12144-3456, USA.



This study examined the relationship between aging and regular physical activity. The moderating effects of education and the extent to which employment and health status influence physical activity were also examined.


Multilevel logistic regression was conducted using longitudinal data from a national sample of 7,595 adults aged 54 to 72.


An age-related decline in physical activity was observed, steeper among low-education individuals. Lack of physical activity was predicted by worsening health and reduced workforce participation, but these associations varied by education level. For low-education individuals, not working and job losses were associated with reduced physical activity, whereas for highly educated individuals the reverse was true. Health problems were associated more strongly with reduced physical activity in high-education individuals.


Early old age is a critical period for promoting physical activity. Different intervention strategies for groups of different socioeconomic status may be needed.

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