More than half of the Luxembourg residents aged 50+ are doing a physical activity of vigorous-intensity
Physical activity includes various practices such as walking, cycling, sports, and active forms of leisure, as well as occupational and household activities that require physical effort.
Sedentary behaviour as the fourth leading cause of premature death worldwide
The World Health Organization (WHO) considers sedentary behaviour as the fourth leading risk factor for premature death. To reduce this risk, WHO recommends to adults aged 18 and over to do at least 150 to 300 minutes per week of moderate-intensity endurance activity, or at least 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity endurance activity, or an equivalent combination of the two, while adjusting the intensity based on age and health status.
Gender disparities decreased between 2015 and 2020 in Luxembourg...
In 2020, in Luxembourg, more than half of residents in Luxembourg aged 50+ are doing a vigorous-intensity activity at least once a week. In 2015, men in Luxembourg (54%) were more likely to do a vigorous-intensity physical activity compared to women (45%). However, this gap has significantly decreased in 2020, as women (54%) almost reached the percentage of their male counterparts (56%).
... but that are persisting according to age
While it has been shown that the risk of cardiovascular diseases or of some cancers, especially among older people, is reduced by doing a physical activity, occurrences decline with age. For example, in 2020 in Luxembourg, 64% of men aged 50 to 59 were engaged in a vigorous-intensity activity compared to 38% of those aged 70 and above.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), sedentary behaviour or physical inactivity is "the fourth leading cause of premature death in the world" (for more information, click here). Engaging in physical activity reduces this risk of mortality*. Physical activity includes various practices such as walking, cycling, sports, and active forms of leisure (such as dance, yoga, and tai chi). It can also be practiced in the context of work (handling tasks involving lifting or carrying loads, etc.) and in the context of paid or unpaid household duties (cleaning, transportation, and care tasks)**.
The WHO recommends to adults aged 18 and over to do "at least 150 to 300 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity" or "at least 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous activity" (for more information, click here). However, the intensity of physical activity should be adjusted based on age and health status.
Since 2015, the SHARE survey in Luxembourg has been collecting information on physical activity among individuals aged 50+. The most recent and available data (wave 8) was collected in early 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic. In this survey, several levels of physical activity have been defined:
- Vigorous-intensity physical activity: regular practice, at least once a week, of activities requiring significant physical effort, such as sports, heavy household duties, or physically demanding work;
- Moderate-intensity physical activity: regular practice, at least once a week, of activities involving moderate physical effort, such as gardening, car cleaning, or walking;
- Low-intensity physical activity: practicing such activities one to three times a month or almost no physical activity.
In 2020, as in 2015, the Nordic countries and Switzerland tend to record the highest percentage of individuals aged 50 and over engaging in vigorous physical activity. In 2020 for example, the data for those aged 50+ showed that 67% of Finns, 65% of Dutch, 62% of Danes, 61% of Swiss and Swedes reported being active. In contrast, Mediterranean countries such as Malta (39%), Italy and Cyprus (36%), as well as some Eastern European countries such as Poland (35%) and Hungary (27%), tend to be at the lower range of the ranking. These trends can also be observed in other studies even if methodologies differ from one study to another (for more information, click here).
As for Luxembourg, in 2020, the country ranked in the top third of SHARE participating countries in terms of physical activity. Nearly 55% of Luxembourgish residents aged 50+ declared doing a physical activity of vigorous-intensity. This represents a 6-percentage-point increase compared to 2015 (49%). Just like in 2015, this share is higher than the ones among their Belgian (45%) or French (44%) neighbours. And, if Luxembourg residents aged 50+ were less than their German neighbours in practicing a vigorous-intensity activity in 2015, they reached the same level of 55% in 2020.
Moreover, compared to other participating countries, Luxembourg has a low proportion of residents aged 50+ practicing a little or no physical activity. They were 11% to declare to do low or no physical activity, and this percentage has even decreased since 2015 (13%).
Since 2015, the gender gap in physical activity practice has significantly narrowed. In 2015, a higher proportion of male residents (54%) of the Grand Duchy responded doing a vigorous-intensity physical activity, at least once a week compared to females (45%). In 2020, this share of women in this situation rose to 54%, nearly reaching the proportion of the males (56%). We don’t observe this in all countries of the survey. Indeed, the gender gap widens between 2015 and 2020 in some countries (such as Austria or France), while it remains stable in others (for instance, in Sweden).
As expected, physical activity decreases with age, both among men and women, regardless of the country. Among Luxembourg residents aged 50 to 59, 64% were doing a vigorous physical activity in 2020, while this figure drops to 38% for men aged 70+. Among women, the same observation is made: 60% of the 50 to 59 are doing a vigorous physical activity at least once a week, compared to only 27% among those aged 70+.
However, it is important to highlight that doing a physical activity is beneficial at all ages, especially among older individuals as it contributes to increased life expectancy, reduced risks of diseases such as cardiovascular diseases or certain cancers, and has a positive impact on mobility and cognitive abilities (increased quality of life and autonomy - for more information, click here).
Luxembourg residents aged 50+
SHARE survey, wave 6 and 8, 2015 and 2020, LISER calculations
In 2020, nearly 55% of Luxembourg residents aged 50 and over reported to do a vigorous-intensity physical activity, which is an increase of 6 percentage-points compared to 2015 (49%)