Abstract 4126: Thirty-Year Trends of Physical Activity in Relation to Age, Calendar Time and Birth Cohort in Finnish Men and Women
Background: Physical inactivity is an established risk factor for CVD and sedentary lifestyle is an increasing public health problem in many countries. We investigated the dynamics of the 30-year change in leisure time, occupational, and commuting physical activity in relationship to age, calendar time and birth cohorts among Finnish men and women.
Methods: The study population comprised 59028 men and women aged 25 to 64 years who participated in the FINRISK Study between 1972 and 2002. The first birth cohort was born in 1913 and the last in 1977. Physical activity was assessed using self-administered questionnaires.
Results: The prevalence of leisure time physical activity increased between 1972 and 2002 from 66% to 77% in men and from 49% to 76% in women. In each study year the younger people were more active than the older ones. However, within the birth cohorts, physical activity tended to increase by aging, particularly in women. The prevalence of physically demanding work decreased from 60% to 38% in men and from 47% to 25% in women, and the prevalence of daily commuting activity decreased from 30% to 10% in men and from 34% to 22% in women, in the same time period. In the 1970s and ‘80s, the older people had more physically demanding work than the younger ones, but within the birth cohorts physical activity at work decreased by aging.
Discussion: During the past 30 years, the prevalence of leisure time physical activity has increased, while the prevalence of occupational and commuting physical activity has decreased. The cross-sectional association of age with different types of physical activity was different from that assessed within the birth cohorts. In birth cohort analysis middle-aged subjects increased their leisure time physical activity by aging. Increased leisure time physical activity is needed to compensate the decreased occupational activity.