The association of retirement and leisure-time physical activity among middle-aged and older US adults




Zhang, Yuzi, M.S. in Kinesiology

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Background: Retirement, one of the major life transitions for middle-aged and older people, results in changes in the individual’s daily routine and time allocation. Previous findings suggested that retirement provides a good opportunity for people to adapt to a new lifestyle, and physical activity (PA) increases with retirement. However, the impact of PA on the older population over 75 years old remains unclear, and evidence regarding the type and intensity of PA is inconsistent in the previous literature. Purpose: To examine the association of retirement and Leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) among middle-aged and older US adults. Methods: The study sample consisted of participants aged 55 years and older (N = 148,849; Female = 52.9%) from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (2017). Employment status, LTPA, and other social-demographic characteristics were self-reported by participants. The primary outcome was LTPA, for which we included 3 aspects -- PA participation, guidelines compliance, and PA intensity -- to capture the characteristics of LTPA. Binary logistic regression was conducted to explore the relationship between retirement and LTPA variables in each 5-year age group for both genders. Results: Overall 88,293 participants were retired (M = 44.5%, F = 55.5%). Retired men had higher odds (OR 1.04; 95% CI 1.00-1.07) of participating in the exercise in the past 30 days relative to employed men; retired women had lower odds (OR 0.77; 95% CI 0.75-0.80) relative to employed women to exercise in the past 30 days. Retirement was associated with higher odds of meeting the aerobic recommendations for both men (OR 1.33; 95% CI 1.29-1.37) and women (OR 1.06; 95% CI 1.03-1.09) and the same association was observed in most of the age groups. Retirement was associated with higher odds for men (OR 1.04; 95% CI 1.00-1.07) and lower odds for women (OR 0.91; 95% CI 0.88-0.94) of meeting the muscle-strengthening recommendations; the associations, however, varied by age group for both genders. Additionally, retirement was associated with lower odds of participating in moderate PA, but higher odds of participating in vigorous PA. Conclusion: Retirement is associated with an increase in LTPA for both genders. Aerobic activity is the major contributor to the LTPA with retirement, while muscle-strengthening activity is less influenced by the retirement status, which highlights the need for promoting muscle-strengthening activity among the middle-aged and older population.


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