Participation in physical activity declines with advancing age for a variety of reasons. The aim of this study was to assess the level of physical activity among older South Australians. Computer-aided telephone interviewing of 773 adults age 60 years and over was conducted using random-digit dialing. Rates of participation among adults age 60 years and over in walking and vigorous physical activity (68.1% and 11.7%, respectively) were significantly lower than for those age 18–59 years (77.6% and 38.9%, respectively). Walking was the most popular activity among those age 60 and over. The proportion reporting no physical activity rose from 7.0% in the 60- to 64-year age group to 25.7% in the 85+ group. The findings describe increases in physical inactivity coupled with declines in functional ability with advancing age and suggest that much work remains to fully understand how best to encourage older adults to remain physically active.
Hamdorf is head of the Centre for Physical Activity in Ageing, Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia 5085. Starr is with the Centre for Population Studies in Epidemiology, and Williams, with Health Promotion SA, Dept. of Human Services, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia 5000.