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Physical activity and successful aging
10th International EGREPA Conference

European Group for Research into Elderly and Physical Activity

14.09. - 16.09.2006 in Köln

Regular physical activity (PA) in the elderly increases levels of physical performance (PP), mobility and physical self-confidence (PS)

Meeting Abstract

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  • corresponding author L. Pauly - University of Bonn, Germany
  • D. Volkert - University of Bonn, Germany
  • P. Stehle - University of Bonn, Germany

Physical activity and successful aging. Xth International EGREPA Conference. Cologne, 14.-16.09.2006. Düsseldorf, Köln: German Medical Science; 2006. Doc06pasa095

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published: December 18, 2006

© 2006 Pauly et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.




It is assumed that older people can improve or maintain health and well-being by sports and leisure time PA. Objective data supporting this hypothesis are, however, scarce. Thus, the aim of the present cross-sectional study was to determine the relationship between the current time spent for PA and parameters of PP, mobility and PS in the elderly.


326 independently living elderly (≥65 years) were randomly selected in a German city with about 50.000 inhabitants (women: n=198, mean age 77.1+-7.4 years; men: n=128, mean age 74.5+-7.3 years). An interview-based questionnaire was used to assess PA (weekly time spent for sports and leisure activities), mobility (ability to perform 4 mobility-related activities of daily living) and PS (feeling of secureness while moving and fear of falling). At the time of the interview, PP was measured using standardized tests (handgrip strength, timed “Up&Go”, 5 repeated chairstands, ability to hold different balance positions during 10 seconds). Subjects were divided into 3 groups according to their self-reported PA (A:<3h/week, B: 3-10h/week, C: >10h/week) and differences between these groups in PP, mobility and PS were tested by ANOVA and chi2-test.


In both sexes handgrip strength [mean+-standard deviation (n); women: A: 57.7+-25.0 (59), B 66.2+-22.3 (86), C: 68.1+-17.3 (53) kPa, p<0.05; men: A: 64.3+-24.2 (22), B: 78.7+-17.7 (46), C: 81.9+-14.3 (60) kPa, p<0.01], the percentage who was able to hold different balance positions during 10 seconds (women: A 28.6, B 48.1, C 78.0 %, p<0.001; men: A 42.1, B 75.6, C 89.5 %, p<0.001), the percentage without mobility problems (women: A 32.2, B 68.6, C 86.8 %, p<0.001; men: A 40.9, B 76.1, C 93.3 %, p<0.001) and the percentage with a feeling of secureness while moving (women: A 39.7, B 68.6, C 79.2 %, p<0.001; men: A 45.5, B 80.4, C 90.0 %, p<0,001) increased with increasing PA. Time needed for the timed “Up&Go” (women: A 16.3+-7.4, B 12.0+-4.2, C 10.6+-3.9 sec, p<0.001; men: A 17.4+-10.5, B 10.8+-3.3, C 9.7+-3.1 sec, p<0.001) and for 5 repeated chairstands (women: A 18.7+-7.9, B 14.4+-5.6, C 14.2+-3.8 sec, p<0.001; men: A 13.6+-2.8, B 13.9+-5.1, C 11.3+-3.3 sec, p<0.01) and the percentage of subjects reporting fear of falling (women: A 65.5, B 43.0, C 26.4 %, p<0.001; men: A 45.5, B 23.9, C 6.8 %, p<0.001) decreased with increasing PA.


In elderly men and women PA is positively associated with parameters of PP, mobility and PS. PP, mobility and PS are best in subjects who are active for more than 10 h/week. These results have to be confirmed in intervention studies with sedentary elderly following specifically designed PA programs.