Physical activity patterns of European 50+ populations

Data from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) shows very low levels of physical activity in Poland relative to populations aged 50+ in other European countries. We examine the extent to which the cross-country differences in the level of physical activity can be explained by differences in other characteristics such as education, residence and health, and to what extent the differences between countries – and the observed low levels of physical activity in Poland – relate to unobserved characteristics and could thus be referred to as differences in “activity habits”. We show that even controlling for a number of exogenous characteristics the Polish 50+ population is among the least active in Europe. Only when controlled for life-style and health characteristics (which are likely to be endogenous to physical activity), the level of physical activity in Poland is similar to several other countries but even then is still significantly lower compared to Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany and the Nordic countries.