Journal of Public Health

, Volume 14, Issue 5, pp 291–300

Health-enhancing physical activity across European Union countries: the Eurobarometer study

  • M. Sjöström
  • P. Oja
  • M. Hagströmer
  • B. J. Smith
  • A. Bauman
Original Article

Abstract

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends the development of comparable national physical activity surveillance systems to assess trends within and amongst countries as the Global Strategy for Diet and Physical Activity is implemented. To date, the lack of well-standardised measurement instruments has impeded such efforts, but new methodologies are being developed for this purpose. This paper describes the usefulness of the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) in population samples. The Special Eurobarometer Wave 58.2 2002 covered physical activity and provided a good vehicle for assessment of health-enhancing physical activity (HEPA) in the European Union. Data from around 1,000 individuals in each of the 15 member states were collected after careful translation of the questionnaire. IPAQ scoring protocol version 2 was used for definition of activity categories. Data on the prevalence of sufficient total activity, sedentariness, frequent walking and sitting, in total and by gender across European Union (EU) countries showed consistent patterns. The prevalence of sufficient physical activity for health across the member countries was 29%. It ranged from 44% in the Netherlands to 23% in Sweden. The prevalence of sedentariness across countries was in general the mirror image. Regular walking was most prevalent in Spain. Gender was related to physical activity in that men were 1.6 times more likely than women to be sufficiently active, less likely to be sedentary and slightly more likely to sit for at least 6 hours daily. The findings suggest that two thirds of the adult populations of the European countries are insufficiently active for optimal health benefits. As the IPAQ measurement provides information about the patterns of total physical activity and inactivity, the findings indicate possibilities for targeted health promotion efforts.

Keywords

International Physical Activity Questionnaire IPAQ Sedentariness Walking 

References

  1. Craig C, Marshall AL, Sjöström M, Bauman AE, Booth ML, Ainsworth, BE, Pratt M, Ekelund U, Yngve A, Sallis JF, Oja P (2003) International physical activity questionnaire: 12-country reliability and validity. Med Sci Sports 35(8):1381–1395Google Scholar
  2. Jakes RW, Day NE, Khaw KT, Luben R, Oakes S, Welch A, Bingham S, Wareham NJ (2003) Television viewing and low participation in vigorous recreation are independently associated with obesity and markers of cardiovascular disease risk: EPIC-Norfolk population-based study. Eur J Clin Nutr 57:1089–1096CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Manson J, Greenland P, LcCroix A, Stefanick M, Mouton C, Oberman A, Perri M, Sheps D, Pettinger M, Siscovick DS (2002) Walking compared with vigorous exercise for the prevention of cardiovascular events in women. New Engl J Med 347:710–725Google Scholar
  4. Martinez-Gonzalez MA, Varo JJ, Santos JL, De Irala J; Gibney M, Kearney J, Alfredo Martinez J (2001) Prevalence of physical activity during leisure time in the European Union. Med Sci Sports Exerc 33:1142–1146PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Pate RR, Pratt M, Blair SN, Haskell WL, Macera CA, Bouchard C, Buchner D, Ettinger W, Heath GW, King AC et al (1995) Physical activity and public health. A recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Sports Medicine. JAMA 273:402–407CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Rutten A, Abu-Omar K (2004) Prevalence of physical activity in the European Union. Soz Praventivmed 49:281–289PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Tudor-Locke C, Bassett DR (2004) How many steps/day are enough? Preliminary pedometer indices for public health. Sports Med 34:1–8CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Vaz de Almeida MD, Graca P, Afonso C, D’Amicis A, Lappalainen R, Damkjaer S (1999) Physical activity levels and body weight in a nationally representative sample in the European Union. Public Health Nutr 2:105–13PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. WHA (2004) Global strategy on diet, physical activity and health. World Health Assemb 57:17 World Health Organisation, GenevaGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Sjöström
    • 1
  • P. Oja
    • 1
  • M. Hagströmer
    • 1
  • B. J. Smith
    • 2
  • A. Bauman
    • 2
  1. 1.Unit for preventive nutrition, Department of Biosciences and NutritionKarolinska InstitutetHuddingeSweden
  2. 2.Centre for Physical Activity and Health, School of Public HealthUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia

Personalised recommendations