Correlates of Leisure Time Physical Inactivity in a Scandinavian Population: A Basis for Interventions

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Effective interventions are needed to increase physical activity in the general population. To target interventions, we need knowledge of insufficiently active groups in society. This study aims to identify demographic and health-related correlates of leisure-time physical inactivity in a general Scandinavian population.


Study participants comprised 5734 control subjects, age 18 to 70 years, from 2 ongoing Swedish case-control studies. Participants self-reported their leisure-time physical activity level. The odds of being physically inactive were calculated using logistic regression.


A total of 42% of participants were classified as physically inactive during leisure time. A lower prevalence of inactivity was associated with middle age, higher education, having previous experience of sports participation, following a low glycemic index/Mediterranean diet and having a light physical workload. A high prevalence of inactivity was associated with greater age, high body mass index, smoking, never drinking alcohol, having children, having a weak social network or lower levels of emotional support, and a low vegetable intake.


Several factors were associated with leisure-time physical inactivity. Directing interventions to target groups defined by specific factors associated with physical inactivity could be an efficient way to increase activity and improve health in the general population.

Bonn is with the Dept of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden, and the Dept of Nutrition, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA. Alfredsson, Saevarsdottir, and Schelin are with the Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden. Alfredsson is also with the Centre for Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Stockholm County Council, Sweden. Saevarsdottir is also with the Rheumatology Unit, Dept of Medicine, Solna, Karolinska Institutet, Karolinska University Hospital, Sweden. Schelin is also with the Epidemiology and Register Centre South, Skåne University Hospital, Lund, Sweden.

Bonn ( is the corresponding author.