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Am J Epidemiol. 2009 Nov 1;170(9):1078-81; discussion 1082-3. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwp273. Epub 2009 Sep 18.

Invited commentary: Physical activity over the life course--whose behavior changes, when, and why?

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  • 1MRC Epidemiology Unit, Institute of Metabolic Science, Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge CB2 0QQ, United Kingdom. kirsten.corder@mrc-epid.cam.cam.uk


Physical activity tends to decline from childhood into adulthood. Maintaining high levels of physical activity throughout life is therefore an important public health objective. Relatively little is known about changes in physical activity behavior over the life course, the domains of physical activity in which they occur, the characteristics of those whose physical activity declines, and the factors associated with such changes. In the future, incorporating more accurate measures of physical activity in large population studies would help to establish more accurate estimates of associations in this area. Determinants of behavior change, including the effects of socioeconomic position and social mobility on physical activity and fitness, are likely to change constantly throughout life, but it is largely unknown which determinants are most important at each life stage, let alone whether and at what times those determinants change. Better evidence on determinants of behavior change throughout the life course would contribute greatly to understanding when and how to intervene to help create and sustain lifelong healthy behavior patterns in those who have the most to gain from adopting them.

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