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Elderly people are living healthier, more active, satisfied and confident lives: New German study

The latest German Longitudinal Survey on Ageing paints a rather positive picture of ageing. The new study follows changes of attitudes and behaviour among population groups in the second half of their lives (40 – 85 years) within the last 20 years.

Generally speaking, the health status of this group has improved steadily. In particular, the 60+ age group has a much better health-status and feels subjectively healthier without any or with little functional restriction.
In regard to sport and physical activity the level has improved significantly. Between 2002 and 2014 the percentage of elderly people who practice to sport and physical activity at least once a week has increased from 41.9% up to 52.6%. This trend is particularly clear when it comes to the 55-69 and 70-85 age groups.

Age 55-69         Age 70-85
2002 44.3 %       26.%
2008 50.9 %       32.8 %
2014 55.9 %       46.2%
The results from the German Longitudinal Survey on Ageing can be interpreted by organised sport both as a chance and a challenge for physical activity promotion targeting still rather inactive citizens. This target group is actually more open-minded to doing something for its wellbeing, fitness and health than ever before, and physical activity is esteemed as an appropriate tool to meet this need. This is big chance for organised sport to provide more activities for elderly people.

But despite such good news, we know on the other hand that there are many things to improve. With an activity level of 50 % among elderly people the glass is only half full. More organisations need to invest seriously in action plans for elderly people, and more tailor-made programmes for sub-target groups of elderly people are necessary. We also need specific education for instructors to work with elderly people, and better cross-sector partnerships to access more diverse target groups and/or to develop synergies. And, of course, we need better political advocacy. With a combination of these factors, we can better meet the needs of this target group.
By Herbert Hartmann, former ISCA Vice President, DTB, Germany

Photo by Rachel Payne