Women working longer but exercising less

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Older women in paid employment are less likely to take part in leisure-time physical activity, according to the latest research.

Researchers from Birmingham Business School have used Understanding Society data to find that time constraints imposed by paid work have a negative effect on exercise levels for women in their 50s, 60s and 70s.

The research, published in the Sport in Society Journal, also identifies fear, embarrassment, lack of confidence, caring responsibilities and limited opportunities as barriers to physical activity for older women.

And with paid work extending further into older age as the statutory pension age increases, the study urges government, employers and leisure providers to intervene in order to counter the negative effects of working longer on participation in leisure-time physical activity.

Fiona Carmichael, Professor of Labour Economics in the Department of Management at Birmingham Business School, led the study. She said: ‘Participation in physical exercise declines with age, and working for longer is unlikely to reverse this trend.’

The researchers carried out in-depth, open-ended interviews with 30 older women on the subject of exercise. They also interviewed a number of key stakeholders, including leisure providers, NHS groups, a local council and Age UK. Data from the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) was analysed to provide national context.

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this news has been re-posted from the Understanding Society website