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Br J Sports Med. 2014 Feb;48(3):239-43. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2013-092993. Epub 2013 Nov 25.

Taking up physical activity in later life and healthy ageing: the English longitudinal study of ageing.

Author information

1
Physical Activity Research Group, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, , London, UK.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Physical activity is associated with improved overall health in those people who survive to older ages, otherwise conceptualised as healthy ageing. Previous studies have examined the effects of mid-life physical activity on healthy ageing, but not the effects of taking up activity later in life. We examined the association between physical activity and healthy ageing over 8 years of follow-up.

METHODS:

Participants were 3454 initially disease-free men and women (aged 63.7 ± 8.9 years at baseline) from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, a prospective study of community dwelling older adults. Self-reported physical activity was assessed at baseline (2002-2003) and through follow-up. Healthy ageing, assessed at 8 years of follow-up (2010-2011), was defined as those participants who survived without developing major chronic disease, depressive symptoms, physical or cognitive impairment.

RESULTS:

At follow-up, 19.3% of the sample was defined as healthy ageing. In comparison with inactive participants, moderate (OR, 2.67, 95% CI 1.95 to 3.64), or vigorous activity (3.53, 2.54 to 4.89) at least once a week was associated with healthy ageing, after adjustment for age, sex, smoking, alcohol, marital status and wealth. Becoming active (multivariate adjusted, 3.37, 1.67 to 6.78) or remaining active (7.68, 4.18 to 14.09) was associated with healthy ageing in comparison with remaining inactive over follow-up.

CONCLUSIONS:

Sustained physical activity in older age is associated with improved overall health. Significant health benefits were even seen among participants who became physically active relatively late in life.

KEYWORDS:

Aging; Epidemiology; Physical activity promotion in primary care; Psychology

PMID:
24276781
PMCID:
PMC3913225
DOI:
10.1136/bjsports-2013-092993
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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