Prevalence of physical inactivity in nine rural INDEPTH Health and Demographic Surveillance Systems in five Asian countries

Type Journal Article - Global Health Action
Title Prevalence of physical inactivity in nine rural INDEPTH Health and Demographic Surveillance Systems in five Asian countries
Volume 2
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2009
Background: Physical inactivity leads to higher morbidity and mortality from chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as stroke and heart disease. In high income countries, studies have measured the population level of physical activity, but comparable data are lacking from most low and middle-income countries.

Objective: To assess the level of physical inactivity and its associated factors in selected rural sites in five Asian countries.

Methods: The multi-site cross-sectional study was conducted in nine rural Health and Demographic Surveillance System (HDSS) sites within the INDEPTH Network in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam. Using the methodology from the WHO STEPwise approach to Surveillance (STEPS), about 2,000 men and women aged 25–64 years were selected randomly from each HDSS sampling frame. Physical activity at work and during leisure time, and on travel to and from places, was measured using the Global Physical Activity Questionnaire version 2 (GPAQ2). The total activity was calculated as the sum of the time spent in each domain of activities in metabolic equivalent-minutes per week, and was used to determine the level of physical activity. Multivariable logistic regression was used to assess demographic factors associated with a low level of physical activity.

Results: The prevalence of physical inactivity ranged from 13% in Chililab HDSS in Vietnam to 58% in Filabavi HDSS in Vietnam. The majority of men were physically active, except in the two sites in Vietnam. Most of the respondents walked or cycled for at least 10 minutes to get from place to place, with some exceptions in the HDSSs in Indonesia and Thailand. The majority of respondents, both men and women, were inactive during their leisure time. Women, older age, and high level of education were significantly associated with physical inactivity.

Conclusion: This study showed that over 1/4 men and 1/3 women in Asian HDSSs within the INDEPTH Network are physically inactive. The wide fluctuations between the two HDSS in Vietnam offer an opportunity to explore further urbanisation and environmental impacts on physical activity. Considering the importance of physical activity in improving health and preventing chronic NCDs, efforts need to be made to promote physical activity particularly among women, older people, and high education groups in these settings.

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