This study analyses the influence of individual and socio-structural resources on the relation of physical activity and self-rated health in older age. Furthermore, countryspecific differences regarding the direction and strength of these influence structures will be analysed. Based on the sixth wave of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement (SHARE), a hierarchical multiple ordered regression model and 15 country-specific regression models were estimated to test our hypotheses. The sample consisted of 32,282 retired people from 14 European countries plus Israel at least 65 years of age. After adjusting for individual and socio-structural resources, a higher level of physical activity was associated with better self-rated health. Compared to the unadjusted model, the relation was less strong but remained significant. Particularly chronic diseases, limitations in the activities of daily living and self-rated household income affected the relation of physical activity and self-rated health. The international comparison shows country-specific differences regarding the strength of the relations, and differences in the direction of the effects. Individual and socio-structural resources are significant determinants regarding the relation of physical activity and self-rated health in older age. Therefore, preventive (health) care for the elderly should be focused more on creating structural and socioeconomic conditions, enabling the elderly to make choices that address their health needs, not least being physically active (or by regular physical activities).
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When using the word “health” we refer to both objective and self-rated health.
Nevertheless, it remains questionable to what extent the increase of physical activity levels could also be used as a public health intervention, because there is no empirical evidence yet toward the effectiveness of increased physical activity leading to improved population health outcomes and reduce economic costs of health (e.g., Weed 2016).
SHARE: Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe
Although this assumption underlies the whole conceptual framework, it is also important to note that not every old individual wants to be active and some may consider relaxation as important or even more important for health.
Hereby it is also important to note that not all older people want to be social, some of them maybe prefer solitude (referring to the “Disengagement Theory” by Cumming and Henry (1961)).
ISCED: International Standard Classification of Education
Prob > chi2 - probability of getting a specific Likelihood Ratio (LR) Chi-Square test statistic (similar to the f-test in linear regression) (Kohler and Kreuter 2012).
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Faß, E., Schlesinger, T. The Relation of Physical Activity and Self-Rated Health in Older Age - Cross Country Analysis Results from SHARE. Population Ageing (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12062-019-09242-w
- Self-rated health
- Physical activity
- Older age
- Cross-country study