Playing Sports In Midlife Increases Chance of An Active Old Age

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 London, UK

Dr. Aggio

Dr. Daniel Aggio, PhD
UCL Department of Primary Care and Population Health
UCL Medical School
University College London PA Research Group
London, UK

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.

MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response: Engagement in sport and structured exercise may be vital for developing the necessary motor skills needed to establish a lifelong habit for physical activity. Early life participation should be encouraged but even taking up sport in midlife or early old age may increase the chances of being active in old age. It is also important that we provide opportunities to increase walking as this appears to be highly achievable during the transition to old age.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Our study included only British men, predominantly of white ethnicity. Therefore, further research in other populations including women and participants from other ethnic backgrounds are needed.

Disclosure: This study was funded by a British Heart Foundation program grant.

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.

Citation: Aggio D, Papacosta O, Lennon L, et al

Association between physical activity levels in mid-life with physical activity in old age: a 20-year tracking study in a prospective cohort

BMJ Open 2017;7:e017378. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-017378

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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