Research: Educational Differences & Physical Fitness

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Research Paper Title

Educational Differences in Self-rated Physical Fitness among Finns.

Background

The high educated live longer and healthier lives when compared to the low educated. Physical fitness as a health indicator reflects the level of physical activity along with other health-influencing factors such as obesity, smoking, chronic diseases and individual training effects. Studies support the theory that self-rated physical fitness correlates with objectively measured physical fitness well. However, the educational differences in self-rated physical fitness are not known.

Method

The aim was to study educational differences in self-rated physical fitness in Finnish population. The data were collected in 2007 for a cross-sectional population based National FINRISK Study. The analysed data included 2722 men and 3108 women aged 25 to 74 years. Statistical method was ordinal logistic regression.

Results

Longer educational career was associated with better self-rated physical fitness. The educational differences in self-rated physical fitness were largely explained by health behaviour. Leisure-time physical activity explained fully and body mass index partly the educational differences in self-rated physical fitness among men. The combination of body mass index, history of chronic diseases and smoking explained the differences fully among men and partly among women. Leisure-time, occupational and commuting physical activities, body mass index, history of chronic diseases and smoking together explained all educational differences in self-rated physical fitness among both genders.

Conclusions

Although educational differences in self-rated physical fitness were found, they were explained by health behaviour related factors. Leisure-time physical activity offered the strongest single explanation for the educational differences in self-rated physical fitness. Thus, possibilities for leisure-time physical activity should be increased especially among the low educated.

Source: BMC Public Health 2013;13:163.

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