The study asked 584 people aged 65 to identify which of 16 potential barriers made it more difficult for them to engage in regular physical activity. Their activity levels were then measured over the following week using an accelerometer.
Results showed that respondents who were worried about their health, or who were not interested in exercising, were least likely to be physically active. Concerns about environmental factors (i.e. the risk of injury from unsafe environments, or a lack of access to suitable spaces in which to exercise) were less accurate predictors of reduced levels of physical activity.
Commenting on the study’s findings, lead author Professor Falko Sniehotta of Newcastle University, said:
“This is the first large UK study to investigate the relationship between perceived barriers and objectively measured physical activity in older community-dwelling adults.
We found that those who were more conscious of health-related barriers, or were less interested in physical activity, were also less active than other people of their age.
Interventions addressing any misperceived health-related barriers, and enthusing older people to get out and about, could help improve mobility and health in the longer term.’
Adam Gordon, Honorary Secretary of the British Geriatrics Society, said:
“"This is an important insight into why older people choose not to do exercise.
We know that there is no such thing as being "too old" or "too ill" to exercise and people will benefit from physical activity regardless of their age or medical condition.
It is, however, important that people who have health problems, or who are more frail, modify their exercise plans to take account of this. People uncertain about how they can safely exercise can consult with their GP.
The British Geriatrics Society has also previously published a good practice guide on physical activity in older age, which can be found on our website."
Notes to editors:
For further information, a full copy of the research paper or to arrange an interview with a spokesperson, please contact Ed Gillett on / 0207 608 8572 / 07828 124 962
The British Geriatrics Society (BGS) is a professional association of doctors practising geriatric medicine, old age psychiatrists, general practitioners, nurses, therapists, scientists, GPs and others with a particular interest in the medical care of older people and in promoting better health in old age. It has over 2,700 members worldwide and is the only society in the UK offering specialist medical expertise in the wide range of health care needs of older people.
Age and Ageing is an international journal publishing peer reviewed original articles and commissioned reviews on geriatric medicine and gerontology. Its range includes research on ageing and clinical, epidemiological, and psychological aspects of later life. It is published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Geriatrics Society. Follow Age and Ageing on Twitter @Age_and_Ageing
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