Patterns of cross-sectional and predictive physical activity in Swiss adults aged 52+: results from the SAPALDIA cohort
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) account for the vast majority of deaths in Switzerland. Insufficient physical activity (PA) is an established NCD risk factor and PA is known to be beneficial for physical and mental wellbeing. Sedentary behaviour (SB) is an additional, independent risk factor and associated with frailty in older adults. This study aimed at describing cross-sectional PA patterns in a general population sample of subjects aged 52 years and older (52+) from eight areas across different language regions of Switzerland. Additionally, the predictive association of self-reported PA for objectively measured PA was tested.
Participants 52+ of the Swiss Cohort Study on Air Pollution And Lung and Heart Disease In Adults (SAPALDIA) who completed accelerometer data collection at the most recent follow-up (SAPALDIA4 in 2017/18) and provided information on determinants of interest (sex, age, body mass index [BMI], language region, education, employment status, civil status, smoking) were included in the analysis (n = 1314). The accelerometer-derived average time spent in different PA intensities (SB, light PA [LPA], moderate-to-vigorous PA [MVPA]) was estimated according to participant characteristics with control for season and wear time using multiple linear regressions. In further analyses, the predictive effect of changes in self-reported PA over roughly ten years between SAPALDIA2 (2001/02) and SAPALDIA3 (2010/11) (remaining inactive [RI]; becoming inactive [BI]; becoming active [BA]; remaining active [RA]) on the objectively measured SB, LPA and MVPA obtained seven years later by accelerometry (SAPALDIA4), was assessed using multiple linear regression models.
Overall, 21.7% of 52+ participants met the Swiss recommendations for subjectively assessed PA. Obese participants, 75+ year-olds, smokers and subjects living alone spent more time in SB and less time in LPA and MVPA compared with participants with a BMI below 25 kg/m2, between 52 and 64 years old, not smoking and being married, respectively. Residents living in the French-speaking part of Switzerland were less likely to engage in MVPA compared with residents from the German-speaking part and thus were less likely to meet the PA recommendations. A trend for increasing PA and decreasing SB was observed consistently across the four groups (RI, BI, BA, RA) of predictive self-reported PA patterns with participants remaining active over the course of roughly ten years showing highest levels of PA and lowest levels of SB measured objectively at SAPALDIA4.
The high proportion of SB points to the need of physical activity promotion for the older part of the population in Switzerland. According to our data, behavioural changes in PA are possible and sustainable as we can see in the group of participants becoming active and this is essential for health promotion recommendations.
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