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Overcoming Exercise Barriers

The key to healthy aging may start in midlife.

People cooking in kitchen to show lifestyle exercise barriers

Older adults greatly benefit from a physically active lifestyle, yet a less-active model is the current trend. A group of European researchers wanted to identify the exercise barriers to a more active lifestyle. While examining data from 3,896 male and female participants of white, Black, South Asian, and other races and ethnicities with a mean age of 69 years, they found a combination of sociodemographic, behavioral and health-related factors that impacted activity levels, including

  • living alone;
  • having obesity;
  • having poor overall mental and physical health;
  • having multiple chronic conditions; and
  • having functional limitations.

Behaviors that were characteristic of more-active older adults included

  • no current smoking;
  • eating more fruits and vegetables; and
  • drinking more alcohol.

Investigators think the higher alcohol consumption is suggestive of a more active social life. Notably, these exercise barriers are typically evident in midlife, suggesting that programs to increase active aging in later years should target individuals in midlife. This may more successfully encourage physical activity and other healthy lifestyle behaviors in later years.

The research is reported in JAMA Network Open (2022; 5 [4], e226379).

See also: Overcoming Barriers to Exercise

Shirley Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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