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Correlates of low physical activity across 46 low- and middle-income countries: A cross-sectional analysis of community-based data

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Ai Koyanagi, Brendon Stubbs, Davy Vancampfort

Original languageEnglish
JournalPreventive Medicine
Early online date21 Oct 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Oct 2017


King's Authors


Physical inactivity accounts for 5.5% of all avoidable global deaths. However, a paucity of multinational studies, particularly in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), has investigated correlates of physical activity (PA). Thus, we assessed the correlates of PA using cross-sectional, community-based data of the World Health Survey including 46 LMICs. PA was assessed by the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) and participants were dichotomized into those who do (≥ 150 min moderate-vigorous PA per week) and do not (< 150 min = low PA) comply with the World Health Organization (WHO) PA recommendations. Multivariable logistic regression was used to assess the PA correlates. The prevalence of low PA in 206,356 persons (mean age 38.4 years; 49.6% males) was 29.2% (95%CI = 28.3%–30.0%). In the overall sample, female sex, not married/cohabiting, high education and wealth, unemployment, and urban setting were significant sociodemographic correlates of low PA. In terms of other correlates, inadequate fruit and vegetable intake, subsyndromal depression, worse sleep/energy and cognition, visual impairment, hearing problems and asthma were associated with not meeting the WHO recommendations. There were some variations in the correlates depending on age and sex. Interventions should be developed that operate at multiple levels of influence and take into account age- and gender-related PA patterns in order to assist people in LMICs to comply with the WHO PA recommendations. Researchers, funding bodies, practitioners and policymakers in education, mental and physical health, and urban planning have a critical role to play.

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