How the relationship between physical activity and health changes with age

  • Fernando Lera-Lopez
  • Andrea Ollo-López
  • Mirian Garrués-Irisarri
  • Juan M. Cabasés
  • Eduardo Sánchez
Original Investigation


In the context of age-related declines in physical activity (PA) and the dramatic increase in ageing populations in many countries, this paper sheds further light on the link between PA and self-perceived health (SPH) by examining whether the magnitude of this relationship is age specific. With a sample of 14,456 Spanish individuals aged 18–69, we estimated three levels of intensity in PA using the International Physical Activity Questionnaire. Individuals who did more PA per week showed higher levels of SPH (β = 0.28; 95% CI 0.24–0.32), and age moderated this relationship, with a positive effect over age 49. People aged 50–59 and 60–69 who practiced PA had higher probabilities of better SPH compared with those aged 40–49 (β = 0.14; 95% CI 0.04–0.24) and (β = 0.32; 95% CI 0.21–0.43), respectively. This association between PA and SPH also depended on the intensity of PA, especially for walking (β = 0.14; 95% CI 0.04–0.24). In particular, in comparison with people age 40–49, a statistically significant relationship with SPH was found among people age 50–59 who walked (β = 0.22; 95% CI 0.07–0.36) and people age 60–69 who did moderate PA (β = 0.38; 95% CI 0.23–0.54). This paper provides a major rationale for the design, organisation and implementation of public policies promoting PA and healthy ageing for different age groups.


Physical activity Age Self-perceived health Ageing Walking Subjective well-being 



Funding was provided by Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte (ECO2013-48496-C4-2-R, ECO2017-86305-C4-4-R) and Fundación Caja Navarra (2017).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Universidad Publica de NavarraPamplonaSpain
  2. 2.Universidad del País VascoBilbaoSpain

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