Emerging Evidence of the Physical Activity Transition in Kenya

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Comparable data to examine the physical activity (PA) transition in African countries such as Kenya are lacking.


We assessed PA levels from urban (UKEN) and rural (RKEN) environments to examine any evidence of a PA transition. Nine- to twelve-year-old children participated in the study: n = 96 and n = 73 children from UKEN and RKEN, respectively. Pedometers were used to estimate children’s daily step count. Parental perception regarding their child’s PA patterns was collected via questionnaire (n = 172).


RKEN children were more physically active than their UKEN counterparts with a mean average steps per day (± SE) of 14,700 ± 521 vs. 11,717 ± 561 (P < .0001) for RKEN vs. UKEN children respectively. 62.5% of the UKEN children spent 0 hours per week playing screen games compared with 13.1% of UKEN children who spent more than 11 hours per week playing screen games. Seventy percent of UKEN and 34% of RKEN parents reported being more active during childhood than their children respectively.


Results of this study are indicative of a PA transition in Kenya. Further research is needed to gather national data on the PA patterns of Kenyan children to minimize the likelihood of a public health problem due to physical inactivity.

Onywera and Boit are with the Dept of Recreation Management and Exercise Science, Kenyatta University, Nairobi, Kenya. Adamo and Tremblay are with the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Sheel is with the Dept of Kinesiology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Ontario. Waudo is with the Dept of Foods, Nutrition, and Dietetics, Kenyatta University, Nairobi, Kenya.