Thursday, March 7th, 2013

New Zealanders across all age groups are becoming less active, but almost one out of five Kiwis aged over 65 does no leisure or sporting activity.

In January this year the Ministry of Health published its Guidelines on Physical Activity for people aged over 65. It recommends that older people do some form of moderate aerobic activity—such as golf, walking, cycling or swimming—for at least 30 minutes five days a week plus extra sessions on flexibility and balance activities such as lawns bowls or yoga.

The proportion of New Zealanders aged 65+ who engage in any sporting or physical leisure activity either regularly or occasionally has fallen in the last decade, the latest findings from Roy Morgan Research show.

While participation rates declined around 3-4% for all age groups, according to the Health Ministry report physical activity among people 65+ has a greater impact on the prevention and/or management of health issues such as stroke, peripheral vascular disease, heart disease, weight problems, arthritis and general mobility, as well as things like depression, and cognitive functioning.

Roy Morgan’s further research into the overall decrease indicates a decline in the proportion of older people participating in the traditional activities for the age group, such as lawn bowls, and an increase in them either taking up or continuing more vigorous activity.

Since 2002, more older people now hit the gym or do weight training than play lawn bowls, more go tramping than play golf, and more go cycling than ballroom dancing.

Across the Tasman, the overall rate of activity participation among people 65+ is also now 82%, although this Australian figure is actually up 2% points since 2002.

Pip Elliott, General Manager, Roy Morgan Research NZ, says:

“Our research corresponds to the Health Ministry’s, that a decreasing proportion of older people are engaged in any sport or leisure activity.

“However, we have also found that this decline is in large part due to the traditional lawn bowls, golf and walking falling out of favour.

“The Ministry of Health advises many non-sporting activities are also beneficial: gardening, playing with grandchildren, housework or washing the car.

“And if none of those sounds appealing, a night out dancing works too.”


Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (New Zealand), January – December 2002 (n= 12,699) and January – December 2012 (n = 11,598).

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Roy Morgan Research

Roy Morgan Research is Australia’s best known and longest established market research and public opinion survey company. Roy Morgan Single Source is thorough, accurate, and provides comprehensive, directly applicable information about current and future customers. It is unique in that it directs all the questions to each individual from a base survey sample of around 55,000 interviews in Australia and 15,000 interviews in New Zealand annually - the largest Single Source databases in the world. The questions asked relate to lifestyle and attitudes, media consumption habits (including TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, cinema, catalogues, pay TV and the Internet), brand and product usage, purchase intentions, retail visitations, service provider preferences, financial information and recreation and leisure activities. This lead product is supported by a nationally networked, consultancy-orientated market research capability.
Alex Dalidakis
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