Physical activity is known to have health benefits across population groups. However, less is known about changes over time in socioeconomic differences in leisure-time physical activity and the reasons for the changes. We hypothesised that class differences in leisure-time physical activity would widen over time due to declining physical activity among the lower occupational classes. We examined whether occupational class differences in leisure-time physical activity change over time in a cohort of Finnish middle-aged women and men. We also examined whether a set of selected covariates could account for the observed changes.
The data were derived from the Helsinki Health Study cohort mail surveys; the respondents were 40-60-year-old employees of the City of Helsinki at baseline in 2000-2002 (n = 8960, response rate 67%). Follow-up questionnaires were sent to the baseline respondents in 2007 (n = 7332, response rate 83%). The outcome measure was leisure-time physical activity, including commuting, converted to metabolic equivalent tasks (MET). Socioeconomic position was measured by occupational class (professionals, semi-professionals, routine non-manual employees and manual workers). The covariates included baseline age, marital status, limiting long-lasting illness, common mental disorders, job strain, physical and mental health functioning, smoking, body mass index, and employment status at follow-up. Firstly the analyses focused on changes over time in age adjusted prevalence of leisure-time physical activity. Secondly, logistic regression analysis was used to adjust for covariates of changes in occupational class differences in leisure-time physical activity.
At baseline there were no occupational class differences in leisure-time physical activity. Over the follow-up leisure-time physical activity increased among those in the higher classes and decreased among manual workers, suggesting the emergence of occupational class differences at follow-up. Women in routine non-manual and manual classes and men in the manual class tended to be more often physically inactive in their leisure-time (30 MET hours/week) than those in the top two classes. Adjustment for the covariates did not substantially affect the observed occupational class differences in leisure-time physical activity at follow-up.
Occupational class differences in leisure-time physical activity emerged over the follow-up period among both women and men. Leisure-time physical activity needs to be promoted among ageing employees, especially among manual workers.
Cites: Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2009 Apr;19(2):188-9718266794
Cites: J Epidemiol Community Health. 2012 Mar;66(3):265-7020924055
Cites: Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2001 Jul;33(7):1142-611445761
Cites: J Epidemiol Community Health. 2001 Aug;55(8):562-811449013
Cites: Qual Life Res. 2001;10(5):405-13; discussion 415-2011763203
Cites: J Epidemiol Community Health. 2003 Jun;57(6):440-312775791
Cites: Can J Public Health. 2004 Jan-Feb;95(1):59-6314768744
Cites: J Epidemiol Community Health. 2004 Apr;58(4):327-3215026449
Cites: JAMA. 1995 Feb 1;273(5):402-77823386
Cites: Prev Med. 1997 Jul-Aug;26(4):570-99245681
Cites: JAMA. 1998 Feb 11;279(6):440-49466636
Cites: Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2004 Dec;28(12):1541-715543159