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.