Physical activity behaviours of adults in the Greater Green Triangle region of rural Australia

Clare Vaughan, Annamari Kilkkinen, Benjamin Philpot, Joanne Brooks, Adrian Schoo, Tiina Laatikainen, Anna Chapman, Edward D Janus, James A Dunbar
Australian Journal of Rural Health 2008, 16 (2): 92-9

OBJECTIVE: To assess physical activity (PA) behaviours of adults in rural Australia.

DESIGN AND SETTING: Three cross-sectional surveys in the Greater Green Triangle area covering the south-east of South Australia (Limestone Coast), and south-west (Corangamite Shire) and north-west (Wimmera) of Victoria during 2004-2006.

PARTICIPANTS: A total of 1546 persons, aged 25- 74 years, randomly selected from the electoral roll.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Overall PA, leisure-time PA, occupational PA, active commuting and moderate-to-vigorous PA.

RESULTS: Approximately 80% of participants, more women than men, engaged in 30 minutes or more of daily PA. Only 30% (95% CI 26.3, 33.0) of men and 21% (95% CI 18.3, 23.9) of women did moderate-to-vigorous PA for at least 20-30 minutes four or more times a week. In leisure time, most participants were moderately active; almost one-fifth were inactive and another fifth highly active. Two-thirds of men engaged in high-level occupational PA, compared with one-sixth of women. Only 30% of participants actively commuted to work. There was a tendency for a positive association between income level and leisure-time PA.

CONCLUSIONS: One-fifth of adults in rural Australia were inactive. While there was a high prevalence of participants who engaged in daily PA, few did so at moderate-to-vigorous intensity to achieve health benefits. As occupational PA is difficult to change, improvements in levels of PA are more likely during leisure-time and for some people by engaging in commuting PA.

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