For preventive purposes habitual physical activity was investigated in noninstitutionalized elderly and a profile was composed of the most inactive among them. In a cross-sectional study conducted in 1992 in Arnhem, 503 women and 493 men, aged 65–84 yr, were interviewed. Habitual physical activities and total activity scores were assessed with a questionnaire, previously validated for elderly. Among other things, our findings revealed that light housework (e.g. dusting, washing dishes) was carried out by 90% of the women and 61% of the men. Thirteen percent of the women and 9% of the men had no recreational physical activities (sports or other physically active leisure time activities). Physical activity level seems to be associated with age, socioeconomic status (only for men), marital status (only for women), disability, subjective health, presence of chronic diseases, living in houses with stairs, and living close to shops (only for men). For example, age-adjusted odds ratios for being physically inactive were 28.6 and 7.1, respectively, for women and men with disabilities (95% confidence intervals: 6.4–127.0 and 2.7–18.3, respectively). Our findings suggest physically inactive elderly are mainly characterized by older age and a less favorable health. Physical activity of these elderly deserves special attention, to prevent further deterioration and loss of independence.
©1995The American College of Sports Medicine