Daniel Aggio, Olia Papacosta,Lucy T. Lennon, Sarah Ash, Peter H. Whincup, S. Goya Wannamethee and, Barbara J. Jefferis
Published: 7 December 2018
Previous physical activity (PA) tracking studies have examined the stability of overall PA and/or PA types, but few have investigated how specific types of sport/exercise track over the life course. The aim of this study was to determine how specific sports/exercises in midlife track and predict future sport/exercise and PA in men transitioning to old age.
Seven thousand seven hundred thirty-five men (aged 40–59 years) recruited in 1978–80 were followed up after 12, 16 and 20 years. At each wave men self-reported participation in sport/exercise. Frequent sport/exercise participants (> 1/month) reported the types of sport/exercise they engaged in. Men also reported total PA, health status, lifestyle behaviours and socio-demographic characteristics. Stability of each sport/exercise was assessed using kappa statistics and intraclass correlation coefficients. Logistic regression estimated the odds of participating in sport/exercise and being active at 20-year follow up according to specific types of sport/exercise in midlife.
Three thousand three hundred eighty-four men with complete data at all waves were included in analyses. Tracking of specific sports/exercises ranged from fair to substantial, with golf being the most common and most stable. Bowls was the most frequently adopted. Odds of participating in sport/exercise and being active in old age varied according to sport/exercise types in midlife. Golf and bowls in midlife were the strongest predictors of sport/exercise participation in old age. Golf, cricket and running/jogging in midlife were among the strongest predictors of being active in old age. Compared to participating in just one sport/exercise in midlife, sampling multiple sports/exercises was more strongly associated with sport/exercise participation and being active in old age.
The stability of sport/exercise participation from midlife to old age varies by type. Specific sports/exercises in midlife may be more likely to predict future PA than others. However, participating in a range of sports/exercises may be optimal for preserving PA into old age.