Project Details

Physical activity and social inequalities among older adults

Duration: 01.01.2016 - 17.04.2020
Project Partner: Prof. Dr. Gabriele Bolte
Project Type: Doctoral projects


Against the background of demographic ageing and related challenges, the models of healthy and active ageing proposed by the World Health Organization become more and more relevant for society as a whole. Being physically active is one of the most important determinants of health and wellbeing among older adults. However, epidemiological studies have shown that a large proportion of the older population is not sufficiently physically active. Furthermore, the prevalence of being sufficiently physically active has been shown to be lower among socially disadvantaged population groups than among more advantaged population groups. These social inequalities in physical activity may be caused by economic, psychosocial and environmental factors.

One possibility to counteract physical inactivity is the development of prevention and health promotion measures that aim to enable people to integrate regular physical activity into their everyday life. However, population based prevention strategies not specifically targeting particular social groups of a population may unintentionally miss socially disadvantaged groups and may even widen existing social inequalities (“intervention-generated inequalities”).

This PhD project deals with older adults’ physical activity behavior, with a particular focus being placed on social inequalities. In individual work steps, it will examine (1) the importance of various social factors for older adults’ physical activity, (2) whether interventions to promote physical activity among older adults have an impact on social inequalities, and (3) how social inequalities can be considered adequately in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of interventions.