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Danish women are less physically active

Friday 29 Jan 16

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Jeppe Matthiessen
Senior adviser
National Food Institute
+45 35 88 74 44

One in three Danes are classified as physically inactive according to data from the Danish National Survey of Diet and Physical Activity from the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark. This is mainly due to a reduction in the physical activity level in Danish women. More women are less physically active than recommended, while fewer are classified as active or highly active.

Regular physical activity benefits physical and mental health. Physical activity prevents cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, overweight, certain types of cancers and depression.

The National Food Institute compared the level of physical activity among Danish adults in 2007-2008 and in 2011-2012. Pedometers were used to measure physical activity. Time spent cycling was converted into steps and added to the pedometer steps.

Women less active

One in three Danes are currently classified as physically inactive. This is partly due to the fact that Danish women are significantly less active than previously. In 2011-2012 women took on average 1,100 fewer steps per day than they did in 2007-2008. 

"In recent years Danish women have become more inactive and overweight. Women are therefore also important to focus on in public health promotion."

The proportion of women who take fewer steps than the recommended 7,500 steps per day has increased from 24% to 31% from 2007 to 2012. At the same time the proportion of women who take at least 10,000 steps per day has decreased from 53% to 40%.

”In recent years Danish women have become more inactive and overweight. Women are therefore also important to focus on in public health promotion,” senior adviser Jeppe Matthiessen from the National Food Institute says. 

Other modes of transport and more screen time

Changes in transportation modes have probably contributed to the reduction in the physical activity level. Statistics show that over the last decades more Danes are driving by car and fewer people are cycling. At the same time daily screen time has increased by an hour per day on average.

"Small changes can make a difference for people wanting to get more physical activity in the course of a day. Get on your bike or walk when you have the chance - and log off Facebook and go for a walk instead. It is not necessary to break a sweat to be physically active," Jeppe Matthiessen emphasizes.

Read more 

Read more about the study in a scientific article in the Scandinavian Journal of Public Health: Reduction in pedometer-determined physical activity in the adult Danish population from 2007 to 2012.

The present study uses data from the Danish National Survey of Diet and Physical Activity, which is the only population survey where objectively measured data on physical activity are collected from a large representative sample from all areas of Denmark.

Pedometer data and self-reported data on cycling are collected in the survey. 160 steps are added for every minute of cycling. Data from a total of 1,610 adults aged 18 to 75 years are included in the study – 202 in 2007-2008 and 1,408 in 2011-2012.