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AARP Bulletin Survey on Exercise

Physical fitness has increasingly become part of the discussion on the health and well-being of Americans. As the New Year approaches, many adults make the resolution to become more physically active. The AARP Bulletin commissioned a nationwide survey to assess the level of physical activity among adults age 45 and older.  Respondents were asked about their current level of physical activity, their favorite type of physical activity, time spent on exercising per week, and if they are more or less physically active than they were five years ago.  The key findings are presented, as well as a detailed analysis, including a comparison with data collected in August 2009 for the AARP report, Calling All Sports Fans: A Bulletin Poll.

Key findings included:

  • Just over seven in 10 adults age 45+ (71%) say they are currently physically active.
  • Fewer than one in 10 adults age 45+ (9%) say they plan to start engaging in regular physical activity in the next month (5%) or the next six months (4%).
  • Roughly one in five adults age 45+ (19%) say they do not currently engage in regular physical activity and do not have plans to start doing so.
  • Walking is the most popular form of exercise among adults age 45+ who are physically active on a regular basis. In fact,  half (50%) say their favorite type of exercise is walking, as opposed to bicycling (6%), using an elliptical machine, stair climber, or treadmill (5%), weight lifting or weight training (3%), gardening (3%), doing work or manual labor (3%), and team sports (3%).  
  • Over half (53%) of adults age 45+ who said they are physically active on a regular basis accumulate four hours or more a week of physical activity.
  • The majority of adults age 45+ (61%) report that their current level of physical activity was less than it was 5 years ago.

The survey was conducted for AARP by Social Science Research Solutions (SSRS), an independent research firm. Interviews were conducted November 18-27, 2011 among a nationally representative sample adults age 45 and older.  For more information, please contact Colette Thayer at