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Survey findings on aging, exercise, and mental health

New findings on the intersection of aging, exercise, and mental health 

Bold is at the forefront of thinking about how to build products at the intersection of aging, physical health and mental wellness to serve our community and help us all age better members.

We recently surveyed 1,000 people over the age of 50 to get insights about the relationship between exercise, health and aging, and we are sharing the findings with a hope that we can all have more open conversations about how our habits and motivations may evolve as we age.

The findings 

Previous research has shown physical activity can reduce feelings of depression and anxiety, in addition to many other benefits for healthy aging overall. Unfortunately, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, older Americans have become less physically active. 

The 15-question online survey, conducted from April 18-19, 2022, paneled adults ages 50+ to self-report their overall health, attitudes, behaviors, and experiences aging. Key takeaways from the survey include:

  • Exercise motivations and habits shift after 65

    • Amongst respondents 50-64 ‘weight loss’ was the most common reason for exercise, but for respondents 65 and older, ‘mobility and balance’ and ‘heart health’ were more common.
    • Respondents 76-85+ report exercising every day more frequently than those ages 50-75.
  • Exercise linked to improved overall health

    • Those who exercise 5 or more times a week were more likely to describe their mental health and physical health as very good.
    • Those who exercise 3 or more times a week report mental health being a motivation for why they exercise, while those who exercise less were less likely to list mental health as a reason.
  • Experience of ageism associated with poorer mental health

    • Individuals who reported their mental health as poor or fair were more likely to report experiencing ageism, particularly with friends, family, and at the doctor.
    • Those who reported very good mental health most frequently reported having never experienced ageism.
  • Opportunity for online services to engage less active individuals

    • Individuals who exercise less than once a week were the least comfortable going to a public gym.
    • Those who exercise less than 5 times a week were more open to considering virtual or online fitness classes.
  • Bridging the gap between health education and action

    • Respondents know exercise will help them age better, but this isn’t always put into practice.
    • Those who exercise regularly report being more motivated to take actions to age better than those who exercise less.
  • Notable gender differences

    • Men are less likely to seek out advice on healthy aging than women are.
    • Men report feeling more comfortable at public gyms than women.

A member story: Finding community with Bold, a story from Nedra G.

In addition to the report, we also asked some of our members to share their stories with us. Nedra shared her story and how she’s found community with Bold.

Watch her story here: