Madrid's citizens do not perform enough physical activity
The Universidad Politécnica de Madrid is involved in a study revealing that three in four adults living in Madrid are physically inactive in their leisure time.
Researchers from the Faculty of Physical Activity and Sports Sciences (INEF) at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid in collaboration with the Universidad Europea and the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, have carried out a study revealing that the 76.3% of adults living in Madrid do not perform physical activity in their leisure time or this activity is not enough to achieve the minimum amount recommended to obtain health benefits. As a result, researchers have identified diverse risk groups in order to provide them with possible intervention programs within the public health strategies.
Lifestyle is a key factor for morbidity and mortality among the population. Diverse studies are related to physical activity (PA) as a protective element facing both, physical and mental diseases, even death. On the contrary, the physical inactivity is related to mortality and a low quality of life.
Some institutions have made the minimum recommendations of PA according to its frequency, length and intensity in order to achieve benefits for health. The most popular recommendation was jointly conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) in 1995. These recommendations were subsequently updated in 2007 by ACSM and the American Heart Association (AHA).
In general terms, these recommendations set the need to perform either, moderate intensity aerobic exercise at least 30 minutes for five days a week, or to perform intense aerobic exercise at least 20 minutes for three days a week or combining both types of workout. However, despite the benefits of regular workout, there are still high percentages of inactive population or they hardly achieve the minimum recommendations just mentioned.
PA can be performed in three different situations: at work (daily occupation), in transport (walking and cycling trips) and in leisure time. From PA point of view, performing exercises and sports in leisure time (LTPA) means the exercise is performed regardless of work, when referring to daily occupation or transport means to perform regular exercise associated to diverse health indicators. Therefore, the efforts to promote PA should focus on these two situations.
The research findings, in which UPM was involved, indicate that the 76.3% of adult population from Madrid do not perform enough LTPA. In order to determine the predominance of this sedentary lifestyle, researchers carried out a cross-sectional study using structured telephone interviews as a method to collect data. A total of 1,330 Madrid's citizens between 18 and 65 years old were interviewed.
In order to quantify and identify the sedentary population, they used the second version of Global Physical Activity Questionnaire (GPAQv2) consisting of 16 questions. This questionnaire provides information about intensity (moderate or vigorous), frequency (days a week), length (hours and minutes a regular day) of the physical activities developed in the three areas mentioned before: at work (paid or unpaid employment, study, housework or job search), in transport (walking o bicycle trips) and in leisure time (free time). The present study only took into account the relative data of the PA performed during leisure time, this means, LTPA.
The high rates of physical inactivity detected among the inhabitants of the region of Madrid reveal the need to establish health policies that boost the physical activity during leisure time. In addition to adults from Madrid, there are other population groups more likely to adopt sedentary behavior during their leisure time compared to their respective reference groups: women, people aged between 41 and 50, those with middle and low incomes, and finally, those who lack either paternal or maternal model in terms of performing LPTA.
The data obtained in this study can be useful to design public health strategies in order to promote LPTA in the region of Madrid, but it is needed to carry out further research on assessment of PA levels of the population with objective approaches (i.e. by accelerometry)
Besides, future strategies to promote PA should also consider the role of variables related to the local environment which have not been taken into account in this study (urban design, transport system, green areas availability and sport facilities).