Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Public Health and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research article

Physical activity patterns in older men and women in Germany: a cross-sectional study

Anna Moschny1*, Petra Platen1, Renate Klaaßen-Mielke2, Ulrike Trampisch1 and Timo Hinrichs1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Sports Medicine and Sports Nutrition, Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany

2 Department of Medical Informatics, Biometry and Epidemiology, Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Public Health 2011, 11:559  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-559

Published: 13 July 2011



Data on physical activity in older adults in Germany is scarce. The aim of this study was to analyze physical activity patterns and to explore factors associated with physical activity in different domains, i.e. sporting activities (SA) and domestic activities (DA), in older men and women.


As part of the 7-year follow-up telephone interviews of the getABI cohort (community-dwelling older adults in Germany), the PRISCUS-PAQ was used to survey participants about their everyday physical activity patterns. Time per week (hh:mm) spent in SA and DA (heavy housework, gardening) was analyzed for men and women. Multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed in order to assess the odds of participating in SA and DA for at least 2.5 hours/week in association with sociodemographic factors, a broad range of physical health-related factors and interview date (season of the year).


A total of 1,610 primary health care patients (51.6% women) with a median age of 77 (range 72-93) years were included in the analyses. Men engaged in SA more often than women (01:45 vs. 01:10), whereas women did more DA per week than men (04:00 vs. 03:00).

Being interviewed in spring or summer was associated with increased performance of DA in both sexes. Participation in these activities was reduced in more highly educated men and women. Living alone increased the odds of sports participation in women, but not in men. Most physical health-related factors were only selectively associated with either SA or DA, in men or women, respectively. The need for a walking aid was the only factor that consistently lowered the odds of being active in both activity domains and sexes.


This exploratory study delivers reliable and relevant data on the participation in and correlates of sporting and domestic activities of community-dwelling older adults for whom there had previously been only limited information at a population level in Germany. Findings are discussed and implications for epidemiological research and health promotion practice are provided.

Aged; gender; physical activity; housework; gardening; correlates; public health