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Leisure-time Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour in Older People: The Influence of Sport Involvement on Behaviour Patterns in Later Life

Amy M. Gayman Jessica Fraser-Thomas Jamie E. L. Spinney Rachael C. Stone Joseph Baker

*Corresponding author: Amy M. Gayman agayman@wlu.ca


Given the dramatic demographic change underway in most industrialized nations, the health of older adults is a major concern, particularly given the prevalence of sedentary behaviours and physical inactivity among ageing populations. Researchers have suggested sport participation in later life promotes other health-related behaviours, however, these relationships are poorly understood. It is possible for individuals to be classified as sufficiently active and still spend most of their day involved in sedentary pursuits. Moreover, there is little information on older sport participants’ use of time compared to leisurely active or inactive peers and whether type of physical activity involvement is associated with differences in older adults’ behaviour patterns. With this in mind, data from 1,723 respondents (65 years and older) who completed the sport module of the 2010 Canadian General Social Survey–Time Use were used to investigate the influence of physical activity involvement (competitive sport vs. non-competitive sport vs. physically active leisure vs. inactivity) on time spent in leisure-time physical activity and sedentary behaviours. Results indicated that competitive sport participants spent less time engaging in sedentary behaviours compared to the physically active leisure or inactive respondents; however, sport participants (both competitive and non-competitive) also spent less time engaging in leisure-time physical activities than the physically active leisure group. Implications of these findings to assumptions related to the activity levels of older sport participants, suggestions for future research, and considerations for sport-related interventions aimed at enhancing health in older adulthood are discussed.

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