How active are older Americans?

Judy Kruger, Susan A. Carlson, David Buchner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Introduction Regular physical activity can reduce age-related functional decline, as well people's risk for chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease, hypertension, colon cancer, and diabetes. The objective of this study was to estimate the level of participation in aerobic, muscle-strengthening, and flexibility activities among Americans aged 50 years or older. Methods Using population-based data from the 2001 National Health Interview Survey, we classified qualified respondents (N = 11,969) according to whether they met the activity criteria used in Healthy People 2010 goals for leisure-time participation in regular aerobic physical activity, vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, strength-training activity, and flexibility activity. We also classified respondents according to their level of aerobic activity (i.e., inactive, insufficiently active, and regularly active). Results We estimated that 46.4% of older Americans engaged in no leisure-time aerobic activity; that 26.1% were regularly active (participated in light- to moderate-intensity aerobic activities at least 5 days per week for at least 30 minutes or vigorous-intensity activities at least 3 days per week for at least 20 minutes); that 16.2% participated in vigorous-intensity aerobic activities at least 3 days per week for at least 20 minutes; that 13.7% participated in strength-training activities at least 2 days per week; and that 24.5% participated in flexibility activities at least 1 day per week. Among the 26.1% of older Americans who were regularly active, 30.5% engaged in strengthen-training activities at least 2 days per week. Overall, only 8.2% of older Americans met the criteria for both aerobic and strength-training activity. Conclusion As of 2001, the percentage of older Americans who met recommended activity levels of physical activity were well below the goals for U.S. adults in Healthy People 2010. Further efforts are needed to encourage older Americans to engage in aerobic activities and in strengthening and flexibility activities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number94
JournalPreventing Chronic Disease
Volume4
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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    Kruger, J., Carlson, S. A., & Buchner, D. (2007). How active are older Americans? Preventing Chronic Disease, 4(3), [94].