Physical inactivity is a modifiable risk factor for obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and certain types of cancer. This study aimed to investigate the patterns and demographic correlates of physical activity in Iran.
The data collected through the third national surveillance of risk factors of non-communicable diseases (SuRFNCD-2007) on 4120 adults were studied. Physical activity was assessed by the global physical activity questionnaire (GPAQ) in domains of work, commuting and recreation. Participants were categorized into low, moderate and high activity categories. Total physical activity (TPA) was calculated using metabolic equivalents (MET).
40% of Iranian adults (31.6% of men and 48.6% of women) belonged to the low physical activity category. The median value of TPA was 206 (342 in men and 129 in women) MET-minutes/day. Physical activity at work, commuting and recreation contributed to 71%, 20% and 9% of TPA, respectively. Approximately 15% of Iranian adults (4.7 million people) do not have any physical activity in any of the 3 studied domains.
Physical inactivity is common in Iran, particularly in females and in the older age groups. Preventing a rapid growth of conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases requires health programs with more focus on physical activity.