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Revista Española de Salud Pública

On-line version ISSN 2173-9110Print version ISSN 1135-5727


GOMEZ-CABELLO, Alba et al. Organized physical activity in the elderly, a tool to improve physical fitness during ageing. Rev. Esp. Salud Publica [online]. 2018, vol.92, e201803013.  Epub Mar 27, 2018. ISSN 2173-9110.


An adequate level of fitness is critical to achieving healthy ageing. The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of organized physical activity (PA) and the number of hours of practice on the fitness levels of the elderly.


A total of 3104 people over 65 years old from Spain, belonging to the EXERNET Multicenter Project (722 men and 2382 women, mean age: 72.1 ± 5.3 years) participated in the study. Fitness was evaluated by 8 specific tests for this population. Participation in organized PA was recorded through a questionnaire. Differences in fitness values depending on the participation in PA and the number of hours were measured with ANCOVA adjusting for age, hours of walking and sitting time.


Those who did not participate in this type of activity increased their risk of having a low level of fitness in most variables evaluated, with some differences between sexes (OR: from 1.6 to 2.6 in men and from 1.4 to 2.2 in women). In men, no significant differences were observed between practicing less than 2, 2-4 or more than 4 hours (P>0,05), with an exception in the strength of the left arm. However, women who performed more than 2 hours a week in organized PA had better balance, strength of lower and upper extremities, flexibility of lower extremities, walking speed and aerobic capacity than those who performed less than 2 hours of PA a week (P<0,05).


The practice of organized PA produces a beneficial effect on the fitness of the elderly regardless of age, hours of walking and time sitting per day.

Keywords : Physical fitness; Exercise; Ageing; Health; Healthy lifestyle; Aged; Frail elderly; Quality of life; Physical endurance; Muscle strength.

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