Describing the distribution of physical activity in populations
is of major importance for developing public health campaigns
to prevent sedentarism.
A population-based survey conducted during 1997-1999 in Geneva,
Switzerland, included 3,410 randomly selected men (n=1707)
and women (n=1703), ages 35 to 74 years. Percentiles P10,
P50, and P90 summarized the distributions of the total energy
expenditure and of the percents used in moderate intensity
activities (3 to 3.9 times the basal metabolism rate (BMR),
e.g., normal walking, household chores), and in high and very
high intensity activities (* 4 BMR, e.g., brisk walking, sports).
The total energy expenditure (median 2,929 Kcal/day in
men, 2,212 Kcal/day in women) decreased with age. Prevalence
of sedentarism, defined as less than 10% of total energy expended
in * 4 BMR activities, was 57% in men and 70% in women. Men
expended 12% of their total energy in 3 to 3.9 BMR and 8%
in * 4 BMR activities. Corresponding proportions in women
were 11% and 5%. The highest prevalence of sedentarism was
in older age, women, and lower socio-economic status persons.
Most of Geneva population is sedentary. Promoting physical
activity should target children, adults and elderly, and physical
activities which would be both attractive and financially
affordable by most people.
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