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Exercise Attitudes and Behaviors: A Survey of Midlife and Older Adults

How satisfied with their lives are midlife and older Americans? What are their perceptions about health and physical activity? What stands in the way of their being more physically active?

AARP sought to answer these and other questions by surveying nationally representative samples of age 50-79 individuals during October and November 2001 and March and April 2002. The telephone interviews with a total of 2,000 persons were conducted by RoperASW.

Some key highlights:

  • Two-thirds (64%) of respondents say they are very satisfied with their lives, while roughly one-quarter (26%) say they are somewhat satisfied.
  • More than six in ten (63%) respondents say that exercise is the best thing they can do for their health. One-third (33%) say exercise is important, but many other things are more important. Only 4% of respondents say that exercise is not very important for their health.
  • Nearly half of those who said they had started some type of exercise program in the past year (47%) say they have been physically active on a regular basis for a year or longer. In contrast, one-quarter (25%) say they don't currently engage in regular physical activity.

For more information, please contact Teresa A. Keenan of AARP Knowledge Management (202/434-6274). (121 pages)

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