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Copenhagen Consensus statement 2019: physical activity and ageing
  1. Jens Bangsbo1,
  2. Joanna Blackwell1,
  3. Carl-Johan Boraxbekk2,
  4. Paolo Caserotti3,
  5. Flemming Dela4,
  6. Adam B Evans1,
  7. Astrid Pernille Jespersen5,
  8. Lasse Gliemann1,
  9. Arthur F Kramer6,
  10. Jesper Lundbye-Jensen1,
  11. Erik Lykke Mortensen7,
  12. Aske Juul Lassen5,
  13. Alan J Gow8,9,
  14. Stephen D R Harridge10,
  15. Ylva Hellsten1,
  16. Michael Kjaer11,12,
  17. Urho M Kujala13,
  18. Ryan E Rhodes14,
  19. Elizabeth C J Pike15,
  20. Timothy Skinner16,
  21. Thomas Skovgaard17,
  22. Jens Troelsen3,
  23. Emmanuelle Tulle18,
  24. Mark A Tully19,
  25. Jannique G Z van Uffelen20,
  26. Jose Viña21
  1. 1 Department of Nutrition Exercise and Sports, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
  2. 2 DRCMR, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark and UFBI/CEDAR, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden
  3. 3 Department of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics, Syddansk Universitet, Odense, Denmark
  4. 4 Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
  5. 5 Copenhagen Centre for Health Research in the Humanities, University of Copenhagen, København, Denmark
  6. 6 Center for Cognitive and Brain Health, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  7. 7 Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
  8. 8 Department of Psychology, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK
  9. 9 Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  10. 10 Centre for Human and Applied Physiological Sciences, King’s College London, London, UK
  11. 11 Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
  12. 12 Department of Geriatrics, Bispebjerg-Frederiksberg Hospital, Institute of Sports Medicine Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
  13. 13 Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland
  14. 14 School of Exercise Science, Physical & Health Education, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
  15. 15 Department of Psychology and Sport Sciences, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, UK
  16. 16 Department of Psychology, Kobenhavns Universitet, Kobenhavns, Denmark
  17. 17 Department of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark
  18. 18 Glasgow School for Business and Society, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK
  19. 19 School of Health Sciences, University of Ulster, Coleraine, UK
  20. 20 Department of Movement Sciences, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
  21. 21 Department of Physiology, Universitat de Valencia, Valencia, Spain
  1. Correspondence to Professor Jens Bangsbo, Department of Nutrition Exercise and Sports, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark; jbangsbo{at}


From 19th to 22nd November 2018, 26 researchers representing nine countries and a variety of academic disciplines met in Snekkersten, Denmark, to reach evidence-based consensus about physical activity and older adults. It was recognised that the term ‘older adults’ represents a highly heterogeneous population. It encompasses those that remain highly active and healthy throughout the life-course with a high intrinsic capacity to the very old and frail with low intrinsic capacity. The consensus is drawn from a wide range of research methodologies within epidemiology, medicine, physiology, neuroscience, psychology and sociology, recognising the strength and limitations of each of the methods. Much of the evidence presented in the statements is based on longitudinal associations from observational and randomised controlled intervention studies, as well as quantitative and qualitative social studies in relatively healthy community-dwelling older adults. Nevertheless, we also considered research with frail older adults and those with age-associated neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, and in a few cases molecular and cellular outcome measures from animal studies. The consensus statements distinguish between physical activity and exercise. Physical activity is used as an umbrella term that includes both structured and unstructured forms of leisure, transport, domestic and work-related activities. Physical activity entails body movement that increases energy expenditure relative to rest, and is often characterised in terms of intensity from light, to moderate to vigorous. Exercise is defined as a subset of structured physical activities that are more specifically designed to improve cardiorespiratory fitness, cognitive function, flexibility balance, strength and/or power. This statement presents the consensus on the effects of physical activity on older adults’ fitness, health, cognitive functioning, functional capacity, engagement, motivation, psychological well-being and social inclusion. It also covers the consensus on physical activity implementation strategies. While it is recognised that adverse events can occur during exercise, the risk can be minimised by carefully choosing the type of activity undertaken and by consultation with the individual’s physician when warranted, for example, when the individual is frail, has a number of co-morbidities, or has exercise-related symptoms, such as chest pain, heart arrhythmia or dizziness. The consensus was obtained through an iterative process that began with the presentation of the state-of-the-science in each domain, followed by group and plenary discussions. Ultimately, the participants reached agreement on the 30-item consensus statements.

  • physical activity
  • aging/ageing

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  • Contributors All authors contributed equally to the manuscript and have approved the final version.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

  • Correction notice This article has been corrected since it published Online First. The second affiliation has been corrected.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

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