Study: When it comes to physical activity, one size does not fit all

February 13, 2008

A landmark University of Alberta study, analyzing a sample of over 275,000 individuals, has found that when it comes to participation in physical activity, one size does not fit all.

“Our study uncovered some definite trends and preferences when deciding how and if a person wants to be physically active,” says Brad Humphreys, an economics professor at the University of Alberta. “It is clear that different genders, ethnicities and income levels have very diverse influences and choices when it comes to being physically active.”

The study, co-authored with U of A professor Jane Ruseski, looked at a wide range of factors, including income, education and ethnicity, that influence whether a person decides to be physically active, as well as their time spent being active. It also examined the impact of government spending on parks and recreation on an individual’s decision to participate in physical activity and sports.

At a 57 per cent participation rate, walking was found to be the most common form of physical activity undertaken for exercise. Results suggest that participation in walking increases with age, indicating that programs aimed at promoting walking for exercise could appeal to older populations, says Humphreys.

“Choosing walking as the main form of physical activity may reflect the relatively low cost of this activity,” says Humphreys. “Walking can be done in almost any setting under almost any condition without needing specialized equipment or facilities.”

It was found that participation in all types of physical activities increased when a person had a higher level of income and that people with a post-secondary education participated in outdoor recreation activities more than high school graduates. As well, females were less likely to participate in outdoor recreation activities, group sports and individual sports than males.

“Compared to men, we found that females spent an average of 444 minutes fewer per week doing outdoor recreation, 108 minutes fewer spent on group sports and 74 minutes fewer on individual sports,” says Humphreys. “This can be explained by child-care responsibilities and the fact that women spend almost an hour more on household activities compared to men per week.”

“Our results have important implications for the design of government interventions aimed at increasing physical activity,” says Humphreys. “When developing these programs, we must take into account North America’s diverse population. A program that increases participation in one population, say older adults and retirees, in a particular state, may not have the same effect on young married minority couples in another state.”

Source: University of Alberta

Explore further: Patients benefit from enhanced recovery programs: Are better prepared for surgery, have less pain

Related Stories

Does it matter how long you sit—if you are fit?

October 19, 2016

More and more studies confirm that sitting is bad for our health, increasing the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease and other lifestyle-related illnesses such as diabetes. Some studies have estimated that being ...

Virtual experience gets the elderly to exercise

October 18, 2016

Virtual Reality can get the elderly in nursing homes to be happier about exercising. A new research project from Aalborg University shows that the technology motivates older people in nursing homes to get moving.

The consequences of sexual abuse in Swiss adolescents

October 21, 2016

In an investigation published in the current issue of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics the harm of sexual abuse in Swiss adolescents is analyzed. Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) comprises activities with actual physical contact ...

Recommended for you

Want to exercise more? Get yourself some competition

October 27, 2016

Imagine you're a CEO trying to get your employees to exercise. Most health incentive programs have an array of tools—pamphlets, websites, pedometers, coaching, team activities, step challenges, money—but what actually ...

Sleep loss tied to changes of the gut microbiota in humans

October 25, 2016

Results from a new clinical study conducted at Uppsala University suggest that curtailing sleep alters the abundance of bacterial gut species that have previously been linked to compromised human metabolic health. The new ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.