Physical activity and retirement: Original analysis of responses to the English Adult Active Lives Survey

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Objectives: Opportunities for older adults to do physical activity may depend on other commitments. We wanted to see if reported physical activity was higher or lower among older adults depending on work status: full-time, part-time work or retired. Methods: This is a secondary analysis of The Active Lives Survey 2016/17 in England. The dataset was used to see how active people were depending on employment or retirement status. Types of physical activity (PA) considered were: leisure, gardening, active travel and combined total, adjusted for age, sex, BMI, disability, rurality and deprivation in models using hurdle regression. Analysis was divided into mostly working age (under 65) or mostly retired (age 65 +) to have sensitivity to the likely transition point. Results: Total PA was significantly greater for retired persons compared to both full- and part-time workers age 55–64, while being retired or working part-time at age 65–74 meant more PA. People did more leisure or gardening with less work, but active travel decreased with fewer work hours, at all ages. Retirement meant more leisure and gardening PA but less active travel. Conclusions: Demand for opportunities to engage in leisure and gardening PA appears to be high among retired people. Greater promotion of active travel in this cohort may be possible.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)871–880
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Public Health
Issue number6
Early online date28 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jul 2020


  • Active travel
  • Gardening
  • Older people
  • Physical activity
  • Public health
  • Retirement

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