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The promotion of physical activity (PA) plays a major role for healthy ageing even in older age. There is a lack of cross-sectional and longitudinal studies explicitly dealing with barriers and drivers to PA in older adults. Therefore the aims of this study are a) to determine the prevalence of insufficient physical activity (IPA) in 65 to 75-year-olds in Europe and to identify factors associated with IPA in cross-section and b) to identify longitudinal risk factors for IPA in prior active persons.
This study is using data of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE). SHARE is a cross-national panel database including individual data of the non-institutionalised population aged 50+ from 27 European countries. For the present paper, we included a cohort that participated in all first four waves of SHARE (2004–2011) aged 65-to-75–years at wave four (male n = 1761, female n = 2085) from 10 European countries. To identify cross-sectional and longitudinal associations, we calculated prevalence odds ratios and hazard ratios with 95% confidence intervals.
The prevalence of IPA in 65–75-year-olds varied widely between countries, ranging from 55.4% to 83.3% in women and from 46.6% to 73.7% in men. IPA was associated with several intrapersonal factors and strength of association was similar for men and women for almost all investigated factors. Statistically significant associated with IPA were socioeconomic factors as low educational level (own and parental) and financial difficulties (male: POR: 1.60: 95%-CI: 1.26–2.03; female: POR: 1.58; 95%-CI: 1.26–1.97) and health-related factors as e.g. number of chronic diseases (male: POR: 1.34: 95%-CI: 1.23–1.45; female: POR: 1.31; 95%-CI: 1.21–1.42). Interpersonal only the size of social network was associated with IPA (male and female: POR: 0.88, 95%-CI: 0.81–0.95). Longitudinally in a fully adjusted model, only grip strength (HR: 0.99; CI-95%: 0.98–0.99) and BMI (HR: 1.02; CI-95%: 1.00–1.04) were statistically significant risk factors for IPA.
PA promotion programs for older adults should incorporate the heterogeneity of health status and physical condition that can typically occur in this age group.