Physical Activity Level In People With Middle Age

People in middle-age need to keep up their physical activity levels if they are to enjoy a fit and healthy retirement according to a new report from the University of East Anglia. The study reveals that over-55s in particular should be doing more to keep fit as they approach retirement age because of the physical, mental and social benefits of being active.

But health problems, not having enough time or energy because of work; also a lack of motivation are leaving many approaching retirement in poor shape. Researchers worked in collaboration with Active Norfolk to gather insight about the relationship between retirement and physical activity. More than 1,000 over-55s took part in an online ‘Physical Activity and Retirement Transitions’ survey about their physical activity levels, and expectations and experiences of retirement.

Cost and availability of sports

“From the age of around 55, people begin thinking about retirement and making plans for their future. “In order to enjoy a fit and healthy retirement, a really key thing is that people need to maintain their physical fitness through their fifties and beyond. “But we found that there are many barriers to this from poor health, lack of motivation; also the cost and availability of sports, activities and fitness classes; to not having enough time due to work or in many cases because of caring responsibilities.

“Many respondents also felt excluded and said that sports facilities; also fitness classes tended to appeal to a much younger market. “While retirement can free up time, deteriorating health and wellbeing often become a new barrier. “That’s why it’s so important to maintain fitness in the lead up to retirement. “There is no one-size-fits all approach. But they find that activity that is combined with socialising, or other purposeful actions such as dog walking, gardening, housework, childcare or volunteering, were all good ways for over-55s to remain active.

Project lead Rachel Cooke, from Active Norfolk, said: “Retirement from work is a major life transition. For many, retirement from paid employment is something to look forward to. But for others, retirement can pose many challenges including keeping physically active. It is clear from the research that retirement is a personal journey; also the availability of support and opportunities to retire actively is varied.

Role of physical activity

“The results of the research highlight the potential role of physical activity providers, workplaces, and support services, such as health professionals and age-related charities; for reaching those who are working full time, part-time; also those who are already retired. Active Norfolk will be working with our partners to influence policy and provision across these three target areas to support over-55s to be active in the lead up to and during retirement.”

Other recommendations for employers include having a health and well being policy that promotes physical activity; so providing opportunities to be active at work such as walking groups and cycle to work schemes; so developing a pre retirement support package with advice about physical activity; encouragement to make plans to be active in retirement; also promoting a culture shift to encourage activity in later life.

Recommendations for improvements in the recreation and fitness sector include making information; which about opportunities to be active locally more accessible, providing better access to green spaces; so providing low intensity activities at times that suit people over 55, with free taster sessions and discounts, and opportunities to socialize.