To analyse whether gender inequality in the couple relationship was related to leisure-based physical activity, after controlling for earlier physical activity and confounders.
Data drawn from the Northern Swedish Cohort of all pupils in their final year of compulsory schooling in a town in the North of Sweden. The sample consisted of 772 respondents (n = 381 men, n = 391 women) in the 26-year follow-up (in 2007, aged 42) who were either married or cohabiting. Ordinal regression, for men and women separately, was used to assess the association between gender inequality (measured as self-perceived equality in the couple relationship using dummy variables) and a measure of exercise frequency, controlling for prior exercise frequency, socioeconomic status, the presence of children in the home, and longer than usual hours in paid work.
The perception of greater gender equality in the couple relationship was associated with higher levels of physical activity for both men and women. This remained significant when the other variables were controlled for. Amongst men the confidence intervals were high.
The results point to the potential of perceived gender equality in the couple relationship to counteract the general time poverty and household burden that often arises from the combination of paid work and responsibility for children and the home, especially for women. The high confidence intervals among men indicate the need for more research within the field with larger samples.
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