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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

On-line version ISSN 1680-5348
Print version ISSN 1020-4989


MONTEIRO, Carlos A. et al. A descriptive epidemiology of leisure-time physical activity in Brazil, 1996-­1997. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2003, vol.14, n.4, pp.246-254. ISSN 1680-5348.

OBJECTIVES: To describe the prevalence, frequency, type, motivation for, and demographic and socioeconomic distribution of leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) among adults in Brazil. METHODS: The data source for our study was the Brazilian Living Standards Measurement Survey (LSMS) (Pesquisa sobre Padrões de Vida), which was conducted in 1996 and 1997. This survey studied a multistage stratified probabilistic sample of 4 893 households, which included 11 033 persons who were 20 years of age or older. The surveyed households were selected in the two most populous Brazilian regions, the Northeast and the Southeast, where in total 70% of all Brazilians live. The selected persons responded to a series of questions concerning their leisure-time physical activities. RESULTS: Only 13% of the Brazilians surveyed reported performing at least a minimum of 30 minutes of LTPA on one or more days of the week, and only 3.3% reported doing the recommended minimum of 30 minutes on 5 or more days of the week. In younger age groups, men were more active than were women. However, this difference sharply decreased with increasing age, and by the age range of 40 to 45 years the prevalence of LTPA was similarly low in both genders. Men reported engaging in more team sports, and women reported more walking/jogging activities, but walking/jogging was relatively more common in both genders when physical activity was performed on 5 or more days of the week. Recreation was by far the leading reason given by men to engage in LTPA, while recreation, health concerns, and even esthetic concerns were all relevant for women. In both genders, health concerns tended to be relatively more important for those exercising more days of the week. Also in both genders, increasing age was associated with more frequent LTPA, more walking/jogging than team sports, and more health concerns reasons than reasons related to recreation. Among both men and women there was a strong association between LTPA and socioeconomic status, measured either by income or schooling, independent of age, region, and urban or rural place of residence. CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence of adult LTPA in Brazil was much lower than the levels that have been reported for developed countries. However, the demographic and social distribution of LTPA in Brazil followed a pattern similar to the one usually observed in developed nations, where men tend to be more active than women, increasing age limits LTPA, and higher socioeconomic status is associated with more LTPA. Our data will provide a baseline to evaluate the impact on LTPA of "Agita Brasil" ("Move, Brazil"), an initiative to encourage physical activity that was implemented in the country after 1997.

Keywords : Physical fitness; exercise; sports; age factors; Brazil.

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