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Long-Term Predictors of Good Physical Health at an Old Age

by Danielle Chevalier 1/22/20 18:25 CST

As everyone knows, physical activity is important to maintain proper physical health. The CDC recommends at least one hour of physical exercise each day. However, not everyone can easily stick to a routine of exercising frequently, especially as they get older. A study conducted by BMC Public Health was interested in what background or personality characteristics predict whether a healthy 25 year-old would become a physically active 75 year-old. The study examined a sample of 712 healthy US males who passes rigorous physical exam in the 1940s, and were surveyed 50 years later in 2000. 

Non-Smoking versus Light Smoking 

Participants in the study who began to smoke and continued to do so throughout life yielded results of poor physical activity and more frequent doctor visits than the participants who did not smoke. A multitude of studies have shown that smoking is bad for physical health, and it cannot be stressed enough the detrimental effects of long-term smoking.


Certain personality traits were associated with later physical health. People with the following traits were shown to have better physical health at 75: routine, spontaneous, adventurous, comfortable taking risks, dominant, and restless. The personality trait that was the most strongly related to better physical health was being adventurous.

Participation in High School Sports

Out of every variable tested in the study, the strongest predictor of physical activity at an older age was participation in a varsity high school sport. Not only did it predict physical activity at an old age, but also better physical health too. 

While this study was a limited sample only consisting of males, specifically WW II Veterans, it is still important to encourage systematic and frequent physical activity at a young age. Encouraging high schoolers to participate in sports may lead to greater physical activity at an older age. Fostering characteristics such as adventurous tendencies in youth could help them become more physically inclined, as well as discouraging kids from smoking.

How do you continue to stay active? We at W2GG encourage participation in sports at any age or any physical ability. No matter who you are, you can get involved in staying physically healthy. Check out our website on how to get involved in coaching, participating on a team, or anything else sports related. 

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