Physical inactivity and associated factors in older adults in South Africa

SOURCE: African Journal for Physical, Health Education, Recreation and Dance (AJPHERD)
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
TITLE AUTHOR(S): K.Peltzer, N.Phaswana-Mafuya
DEPARTMENT: Public Health, Societies and Belonging (HSC)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 7367
HANDLE: 20.500.11910/3312

If you would like to obtain a copy of this Research Output, please contact Hanlie Baudin at


Physical inactivity is associated with increased morbidity and mortality and is a key component of healthy aging. There is little research on physical activity and associated factors among older adults in Africa. Therefore, the study aims to investigate the prevalence and associated factors of physical activity in a national sample of older South Africans who participated in the Study of Global Ageing and Adults Health (SAGE) in 2008. We conducted a national population-based cross-sectional study with a probability sample of 3840 aged 50 years and older South Africans. The questionnaire included socio-demographic characteristics, health variables, physical activity, anthropometric and blood pressure measurements. Results indicate that 60.5% engaged in low physical activity, 10.9% in moderate and 28.6% in high physical activity. Overall 55.0% of the participants reported no vigorous or moderated physical activity at work, 89.1% no vigorous or moderated physical activity during leisure and 57.5% did not walk or cycle. The results of multivariable logistic regression analysis revealed that the prevalence of low physical activity was associated with older age (Odds Ratio=OR: 2.88; Confidence Interval=CI: 2.02-4.09), being from the Coloured population group (OR: 2.68; CI: 1.62-4.45), obesity (OR: 1.94; CI: 1.42-2.65), activity limitation (OR: 2.54; CI: 1.31-4.94) and lack of social cohesion (OR: 0.96; CI: 0.94-0.99). This study thus reveals high rates of physical inactivity among older adults (50 years and above) in South Africa that puts them at risk of morbidity and mortality, and therefore increased efforts are needed to promote physical activity in this population.