Physical activity and disability

Physical activity relates to lower risk of disability

Elderly European men with a high level of physical activity at entry had a 54% lower risk of subsequent disability compared to men with a low activity level. This was related to the length of time the physical activities were carried out and not to their intensity. The results suggest that even in old age among relatively healthy men, a physically active lifestyle protects against disability and the duration of such activities appeared more important than their intensity.

Measuring physical activity and disability

Different aspects of physical activity and disability were investigated in the FINE study of elderly men from Finland, Italy and The Netherlands, with 10 years of follow-up. Information on self-reported physical activity was based on a validated questionnaire on activities such as walking, biking and gardening. Self-reported disabilities were evaluated with the WHO-questionnaire on Activities of Daily Living.

About the FINE study

In 1984, the SCS field surveys were extended with different aspects of health in the FINE (Finland Italy Netherlands Elderly) study. Similar surveys were also carried out in Serbia and Crete. Read more about the FINE study.

More about healthy aging

From 1984 onwards, additional studies started to examine indicators of healthy ageing in the elderly populations of in the SCS and related studies.


Chronic diseases and all-cause mortality

The relations of different chronic diseases with all-cause mortality was studied from middle-age onwards in the Seven Countries Study and in old age in the FINE Study.

Physical activity and disability

The results suggest that even in old age among relatively healthy men, a physically active lifestyle was inversely related to disability.

Disability and depressive symptoms

In elderly men from Finland, Italy and the Nethelands in the FINE Study, self-reported information on disability and depressive symptoms was collected in 1990 and 1995.