MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Daniel Aggio, PhD
UCL Department of Primary Care and Population Health
UCL Medical School
University College London PA Research Group
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Maintaining a physically active lifestyle into old age is associated with optimal health benefits. While we know that levels of physical activity in youth predict physical activity levels in adulthood, how physical activity in midlife predicts physical activity in old age is not as well understood. It is also unclear how different types of physical activity predict physical activity in later life.
Using data from the British Regional Heart Study, an ongoing prospective cohort study involving men recruited between 1978 and 1980, we assessed how physical activity tracks over 20 years from midlife to old age. The study of over 3400 men showed that being active in midlife more than doubled the odds of being active 20 years later. Interestingly, sport participation in midlife predicted physical activity in old age more strongly than other types of physical activity, such as walking and recreational activity. The odds of being active in old age were even stronger for those men who took up sport from a younger age prior to midlife.
Sport was the most stable activity across the follow up, with just under half of men reporting playing sport at least occasionally at each survey. However, walking was the least stable; the proportion of men who reported high levels of walking rose from just under 27% at the start of the study to 62% at the 20 year survey, possibly because retirement might free up more time.