Share this article on:

Age-related decline in physical activity: a synthesis of human and animal studies

SALLIS, JAMES F.

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: September 2000 - Volume 32 - Issue 9 - p 1598-1600
EPIDEMIOLOGY: Symposium: Age-related decline in physical activity

SALLIS, J. F. Age-related decline in physical activity: a synthesis of human and animal studies. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 32, No. 9, pp. 1598–1600, 2000. The decline in physical activity with age may be the most consistent finding in physical activity epidemiology. Although this phenomenon is well accepted, it is not well understood. The purposes of this symposium are to determine whether there are critical periods of decline and quantify sex differences in the decline. Data from cross-sectional and prospective studies indicate the decline is steepest between the ages of 13 and 18. The decline is generally greater for male than female subjects, and the decline varies by type and intensity of the activity. A review of animal studies documented the age-related decline in many species. This suggests a biological basis, and a probable mechanism is the dopamine system that regulates motivation for locomotion. The decline in physical activity with age is antithetical to public health goals, so methods of countering the decline need to be developed, based upon an improved understanding of the phenomenon and its causes.

Department of Psychology, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA 92120

Submitted for publication April 1999.

Accepted for publication December 1999.

Address for correspondence: James F. Sallis, Ph.D., FACSM, Department of Psychology, San Diego State University, 6363 Alvarado Court, #103, San Diego, CA 92120; E-mail: sallis@mail.sdsu.edu.

© 2000 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.