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Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019 Feb 8;16(3). pii: E489. doi: 10.3390/ijerph16030489.

Participation in Physical Activity is Associated with Sexual Activity in Older English Adults.

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The Cambridge Centre for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Anglia Ruskin University, CB1 1PT Cambridge, UK.
Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Centre for Public Health, Medical University Vienna, 1090 Vienna, Austria.
Department of Epidemiology, Center for Public Health, Kinderspitalgasse 15, 1st floor, 1090 Vienna, Austria.
National Research Council, Neuroscience Institute, Aging Branch, 35121 Padova, Italy.
Research and Development Unit, Parc Sanitari Sant Joan de Déu, Universitat de Barcelona, Fundació Sant Joan de Déu, 08950 Barcelona, Spain.
Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Salud Mental, CIBERSAM, 28029 Madrid, Spain.
Department of Behavioural Science and Health, University College London, WC1E 7HB London, UK.


Physical activity (PA) is a potential modifiable correlate of the age-related decline in sexual function, but no studies have explicitly tested this. This study aimed to examine associations between PA, television viewing (TV) time and sexual activity, problems, and concerns. Data were from 7,038 men and women aged ≥50 years participating in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. PA and TV viewing time were self-reported. Sexual behaviour and concerns were assessed by self-completion questionnaire. Covariates included age, partnership status, socio-economic status, limiting long-standing illness, smoking status, alcohol intake and depressive symptoms. The odds of reporting any sexual activity were increased among individuals who participated in moderate (OR = 1.64, 95% CI: 1.24⁻2.15 in men) or vigorous (OR = 2.06, 95% CI: 1.50⁻2.84 in men, OR = 1.42, 95% CI: 1.09⁻1.85 in women) PA at least once a week. Erectile difficulties were less common among men who were active (OR = 0.58, 95% CI: 0.44⁻0.77 for vigorous PA). Women who watched ≥6 hours of TV/day had lower odds of thinking about sex frequently (OR = 0.69, 95% CI: 0.50⁻0.96) or, if they did not live with a partner, being sexually active (OR = 0.40, 95% CI: 0.22⁻0.72). Encouraging older adults to be more physically active could help to improve sexual relationships and, as a result, mental health and wellbeing.


England; older adults; physical activity; sexual activity; sexual behaviour; sexual concerns; sexual problems; television viewing time

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