Physical Activity: Prevalence Depends on Definition Used!

Research Paper Title

Compliance with Different Physical Activity Recommendations and its Association with Socio-demographic Characteristics using an Objective Measure.


In the past decades, several public health guidelines concerning physical activity have been published. This study evaluated compliance with various physical activity guidelines and examined the associations between meeting the guidelines and socio-demographic characteristics.


Data were obtained from 357 Flemish men and women (41.9 ± 9.6 years). Physical activity was assessed for seven consecutive days using the SenseWear Armband. The prevalence of sufficient physical activity was calculated according to various public health guidelines. Logistic regressions examined the associations between socio-demographic characteristics and the odds of meeting the different guidelines.


87.2% of men and 68.1% of women achieved ≥150 min/week of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA), but only 57.6% and 37.3% accumulated this amount as ≥30 min/day on ≥5 days/week.

With regard to vigorous physical activity, 27.9% of men and 15.7% of women achieved ≥75 min/week and 12.8% and 7.0% achieved ≥20 min/day on ≥3 days/week. In addition, 34.9% of men and 21.6% of women attained an average physical activity level (PAL) of 1.75 MET and thus met the criteria for weight maintenance.

Only 16.3% of men and 14.1% of women took 10000 steps/day on 7 days/week. Women had a lower probability of achieving 30 min/day MVPA on 5 days/week (OR: 0.40), or a weekly total of 150 min or 500 MET.min MVPA or 75 min of vigorous activity compared to men (OR: 0.27-0.46). In addition, they were 50% less likely to meet the guidelines for weight maintenance. The odds of engaging in 150 min/week MVPA or attaining a PAL of 1.75 was lower with higher age.

Educational level was positively related with accumulating 75 min/week of vigorous activity, but negatively with taking 10000 steps/day. Smokers were 60% less likely to participate weekly in 150 min of MVPA compared to non-smokers.


The prevalence of sufficient physical activity differed greatly depending on the definition used. Women and subjects older than 35 were less likely to meet the guidelines than men and younger subjects and thus are important groups to target in future interventions.


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