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Physical inactivity in adults (Indicator 7)

Published

The indicator describes the following: The proportion of adults who are insufficiently physically active, defined as fewer than 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity activity per week.

The indicator describes the following: The proportion of adults who are insufficiently physically active, defined as fewer than 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity activity per week.


This indicator is part of Target (3): A 10 per cent reduction in insufficient physical activity. 

The indicator is based on objectively measured physical activity using accelerometers and questionnaires on physical activity. It describes the proportion of insufficiently physically active children and adolescents, defined as failing to meet national recommendations for physical activity.

Results

Around 70 per cent of adults are classed as insufficiently physically active on the basis of objective measurements of physical activity level, compared to around 30 per cent based on self-reporting. This is shown by data from the National Mapping Study on Physical Activity in Adults, the KAN Studies (Figures 1 and 2). 

In the period from 2008/09 until 2014/15 there was a small but statistically significant decline in the proportion of adults who were insufficiently active based on objective measurements (Figure 1), while data based on the questionnaire indicate a small increase in the proportion reporting insufficient physical activity (Figure 2).

adults Accelerometers NCD.jpg

Figure 1The proportion not meeting the physical activity recommendations based on objective measurement using accelerometers, among adults aged 20-85 in Norway in 2008/09 and in 2014/15, as a percentage. The data are not age-standardised. Source: National Mapping Study on Physical Activity among Adults and the Elderly (KAN1 and KAN2). See Table 1 below. 

Adults phys activity NCD.jpg

Figure 2The proportion not meeting the physical activity recommendations among those aged 20-85 in Norway in 2008/09 and in 2014/15, reported via questionnaires, as a percentage. The data are not age-standardised. Source: National Mapping Study on Physical Activity among Adults and the Elderly (KAN1 and KAN2). See Table 2 below. 

Data sources

The data source for this indicator is National Mapping Study on Physical Activity among Nine and Fifteen-year-olds (UngKan).

A description and definitions of the KAN Studies follow below.

Data source: The KAN Studies

National Mapping Study on Physical Activity: The KAN Studies.

Description 

Physical activity among adults and the elderly in Norway (KAN1 and KAN2) has been mapped in a representative sample of adults and the elderly in Norway (ages 20-85) in 2008/09 (N=3464; 32 per cent participation) and 2014/15 (N=3173; 29 per cent participation). The study mapped physical activity using a questionnaire (International Physical Activity Questionnaire, IPAQ) and an objective method of measuring physical activity (accelerometer). The KAN Studies were conducted by the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences and commissioned by the Norwegian Directorate of Health. 

Reports:

Effect measure

  • The proportion not meeting the physical activity recommendations upon objective measurement using accelerometers, among adults aged 20-85, as a percentage

The participants in the study were classed as meeting the recommendations for physical activity as recorded using accelerometers, if they satisfied the following criteria:

  • 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity activity, operationalised as an average of at least 21.4 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per day, carried out in consecutive intervals of at least 10 minutes duration, or
  • 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity, operationalised as an average of at least 10.7 minutes of vigorous intensity activity per day, carried out in consecutive intervals of at least 10 minutes’ duration, or
  • a combination of moderate and vigorous-intensity activity which taken together exceeds 150 minutes per week

The figures and tables show the proportion not meeting these recommendations for physical activity. The data are not age-standardised. 

  • The proportion not meeting the physical activity recommendations in questionnaire responses, among adults aged 20-85, as a percentage

The participants completed the IPAQ questionnaire which is designed to enable classification of individuals into different activity categories in relation to the recommendations for physical activity. In accordance with the protocol developed for IPAQ, one of the three criteria must be satisfied in order to meet the recommendations for physical activity:

  • Three or more days of vigorous physical activity for a minimum of 20 minutes per day
  • Five or more days of moderate physical activity and/or walking for a minimum of 30 minutes per day
  • Five or more days with a combination of walking, moderate or vigorous physical activity, which taken together exceeds a total activity level of at least 600 MET-minutes per week

The figures and tables show the proportion not meeting these recommendations for physical activity. The data are not age-standardised. 

Interpretation and sources of error

Measurement of physical activity via a questionnaire may lead to over-reporting of activity levels. Objectively measured physical activity using accelerometers is not dependent on an active response from a participant and provides valid and reliable estimates of physical activity. A key weakness of accelerometers is that some activities are not captured (e.g. cycling).

Data quality

Objectively measured physical activity using accelerometers provides high quality data. Self-reported data produce clearly over-reported physical activity levels. To make an international comparison, self-reported data are currently the only type of data available since very few countries have nationally representative data on physical activity that have been recorded using an objective method of measurement.  

The proportion of individuals who took part in the National Mapping Study on Physical Activity among Adults and the Elderly (KAN1 and KAN2) is low: around 30 per cent of those invited participated. A low participation rate leads to greater uncertainty as to whether the results are representative for the entire population of Norway. 

Tables accompanying the figures 

2008–09

 

Ages 20–34

Ages 35–49

Ages 50–65

65 years plus

All age groups

Men

81

75

72

70

74

Women

72

74

64

75

71

Total

76

75

68

73

72

 

2014–15

 

Ages 20–34

Ages 35–49

Ages 50–65

Ages 65+

All age groups

Men

75

73

65

71

71

Women

71

66

61

66

66

Total

73

69

63

68

68

Table 1 The proportion not meeting the physical activity recommendations among adults aged 20-85 in Norway in 2008/09 and 2014/15, measured using accelerometers, in 15-year age groups of men and women, as a percentage. Source: National Mapping Study on Physical Activity among Adults and the Elderly (KAN1 and KAN2). 

2008–09

 

Ages 20–34

Ages 35–49

Ages 50–65

Ages 65+

All age groups

Men

30

38

32

25

32

Women

30

36

29

32

32

Total

30

37

31

28

32

 

2014–15

 

Ages 20–34

Ages 35–49

Ages 50–65

Ages 65+

All age groups

Men

33

39

36

30

35

Women

32

37

31

32

33

Total

32

38

33

31

34

Table 2 The proportion not meeting the physical activity recommendations among adults aged 20-85 in Norway in 2008/09 and 2014/15, recorded using questionnaire responses, in 15-year age groups of men and women, as a percentage. Source: National Mapping Study on Physical Activity among Adults and the Elderly (KAN1 and KAN2). 

National adaptation to global indicators

WHO’s definition of the indicator

Indicator 7. Age-standardised prevalence of insufficiently physically active persons aged 18+ years (defined as less than 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week, or equivalent). 

National adaptation

WHO’s indicator is based on self-reporting. We present both measurement data based on objectively measured physical activity using accelerometers and data based on self-reporting via questionnaire. 

The data shown are representative of the age distribution in the National Mapping Study on Physical Activity among Adults and the Elderly (the KAN Studies). The data are not age-standardised.

Authors and contacts

The webpage is compiled by the Department of Sports Medicine at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences and the Department of Non-communicable Diseases at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.