How active are Swedish 50-64 year olds? : A quantitative study investigating physical activity and sedentary behaviour in 50-64 year old men and women from Gothenburg.

University essay from Gymnastik- och idrottshögskolan, GIH/Institutionen för idrotts- och hälsovetenskap



The main aim of this thesis is to examine the physical activity patterns (PA), including sedentary behaviour (SB), in Swedish middle-aged men and women (50-64 years) by using an objective measurement method (accelerometer) and to analyse differences in gender, age-groups and education level (EL). The thesis also analyses the proportion of the present population that is fulfilling the national recommendations of physical activity (MVPA).


The study cohort consisted of 948 participants (51% women, median age 57.5 years) from the SCAPIS pilot study. The participants wore an accelerometer for seven days collecting data concerning PA patterns and SB. The following tests for analysing the data were used: Mann Whitney U test, 2-sample z-test, Wilcoxon matched pair test, and General linear modelling (mixed model ANOVA).


The main findings showed that the study population spent a median of 60.5% in sedentary (SED), 35.2% in light intensity physical activity (LIPA) and 3.9% in moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity (MVPA). On average, 8 hours and 40 min were spent sitting during the day with more than three hours in prolonged bouts (>20 min). Men and the high EL group spent more time in SED, less time in LIPA and more time in MVPA compared with women and the low EL group. The study population was sitting more and had less time in LIPA during weekdays compared to weekends. The same pattern was seen for the high EL group, who compared to low EL group was sitting more and having more time in LIPA during weekdays, but spent more time in MVPA during weekends. The oldest age-group spent less time in MVPA and total movement (cpm), compared to the younger age-groups. Only 7.1% of the study population was fulfilling the national PA recommendation of 30 min MVPA to be done in bouts of 10 min on most of the days of the week.


The study showed that only a small part of the population was fulfilling the current PA recommendations, and that the middle-aged population had a high daily sitting time. A big challenge for the future will be how to change these habits. The focus of replacing the SED with more LIPA during the day will be important and the study showed that the biggest challenge could be during weekdays. 

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