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  • Physical inactivity in adults (Indicator 7)

Physical inactivity in adults (Indicator 7)

The indicator describes the following: The proportion of adults who are insufficiently physically active, defined as fewer than 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity activity per week.

The indicator describes the following: The proportion of adults who are insufficiently physically active, defined as fewer than 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity activity per week.


This indicator is part of Target (3): A 10 per cent reduction in insufficient physical activity. 

The indicator is based on device-based measurement of physical activity using accelerometers and self-reported physical activity using questionnaires. It describes the proportion of physically inactive adults (aged 20-85 years), defined as not meeting national recommendations for physical activity.

Results

Around 70 per cent of adults are categorised as physically inactive based on device-measured physical activity, compared to around 30 per cent based on self-reporting. These data are derived from national surveillance systems, (Norwegian National Physical Activity Survey, NNPAS) conducted in 2008/09 and 2014/15 (Figures 1 and 2). 

In the period from 2008/09 until 2014/15 there was a small but statistically significant decline in the proportion of adults who were categorised as physically inactive based on device measurements (Figure 1), while data based on the questionnaire indicate a small increase in the proportion of physically inactive adults (Figure 2).

adults Accelerometers NCD.jpg

Figure 1The proportion not meeting the physical activity recommendations based on  accelerometery, among adults aged 20-85 in Norway in 2008/09 and in 2014/15, as a percentage. The data are not age-standardised. Source: Norwegian National Physical Activity Survey (NNPASand NNPAS2). See Table 1 below. 

Adults phys activity NCD.jpg

Figure 2The proportion not meeting the physical activity recommendations among those aged 20-85 in Norway in 2008/09 and in 2014/15, by self-report, as a percentage. The data are not age-standardised. Source: Norwegian National Physical Activity Survey (NNPAS1 and NNPAS2). See Table 2 below. 

Data sources

The data source for this indicator is the Norwegian National Physical Activity Survey (NNPAS1 and NNPAS2).

A description and definitions of the NNPAS Studies follow below.

Data source: The NNPAS Studies

Description 

NNPAS1 and NNPAS2 were conducted in representative samples of adults and the elderly in Norway (ages 20-85) in 2008/09 (N=3464; 32 per cent participation) and 2014/15 (N=3173; 29 per cent participation). The study assessed physical activity using a questionnaire (International Physical Activity Questionnaire, IPAQ) and a device-based method of measuring physical activity (accelerometry). The NNPAS Studies were conducted by the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences and commissioned by the Norwegian Directorate of Health. 

Reports:

Effect measure

  • The proportion not meeting the physical activity recommendations by device-based measurement using accelerometers, among adults aged 20-85, as a percentage

The participants in the study were categorised as meeting the recommendations for physical activity as assessed by accelerometers, if they satisfied the following criteria:

  • 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity activity, operationalised as an average of at least 21.4 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per day, in consecutive intervals of at least 10 minutes duration, or
  • 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity, operationalised as an average of at least 10.7 minutes of vigorous intensity activity per day, in consecutive intervals of at least 10 minutes’ duration, or
  • a combination of moderate and vigorous-intensity activity exceeding 150 minutes per week

The figures and tables show the proportion not meeting these recommendations for physical activity. The data are not age-standardised. 

  • The proportion not meeting the physical activity recommendations in questionnaire responses, among adults aged 20-85, as a percentage

The participants completed the IPAQ questionnaire which is designed to categorise individuals into different activity categories in relation to the recommendations for physical activity. In accordance with the protocol developed for IPAQ, one of the three criteria must be satisfied in order to meet the recommendations for physical activity:

  • Three or more days of vigorous physical activity for a minimum of 20 minutes per day
  • Five or more days of moderate physical activity and/or walking for a minimum of 30 minutes per day
  • Five or more days with a combination of walking, moderate or vigorous physical activity, exceeding a total activity level of at least 600 MET-minutes per week

The figures and tables show the proportion not meeting these recommendations for physical activity. The data are not age-standardised. 

Interpretation and sources of error

Measurement of physical activity by self-report may be prone to misclassification bias due to over-reporting. Device measured physical activity using accelerometers is independent from an active response by participants and provides valid and reliable estimates of physical activity. A key weakness of accelerometers is that some activities are not captured (e.g. cycling).

Data quality

Device-based measures of physical activity using accelerometers provides high quality data. Self-reported data appears to produce substantially higher prevalence data, likely due to over-reporting. To make an international comparison, self-reported data are currently the only type of data available since very few countries have nationally representative data on physical activity measured by a device-based method.  

The proportion of individuals who took part in NNPAS 1 and NNPAS2 is low: around 30 per cent of those invited participated. A low participation rate leads to greater uncertainty as to whether the results are representative for the entire population of Norway. 

Tables accompanying the figures 

Table 1. The proportion (%) not meeting the physical activity recommendations among adults aged 20-85 in Norway in 2008/09 and 2014/15, measured using accelerometers. Source: Norwegian National Physical Activity Survey (NNPAS1 and NNPAS2). 

2008–09

 

Ages 20–34

Ages 35–49

Ages 50–65

65 years plus

All age groups

Men

81

75

72

70

74

Women

72

74

64

75

71

Total

76

75

68

73

72

 

2014–15

 

Ages 20–34

Ages 35–49

Ages 50–65

Ages 65+

All age groups

Men

75

73

65

71

71

Women

71

66

61

66

66

Total

73

69

63

68

68

 

 

Table 2. The proportion (%) not meeting the physical activity recommendations among adults aged 20-85 in Norway in 2008/09 and 2014/15 by self-report. Source: Norwegian National Physical Activity Survey (NNPAS1 and NNPAS2). 

2008–09

 

Ages 20–34

Ages 35–49

Ages 50–65

Ages 65+

All age groups

Men

30

38

32

25

32

Women

30

36

29

32

32

Total

30

37

31

28

32

 

2014–15

 

Ages 20–34

Ages 35–49

Ages 50–65

Ages 65+

All age groups

Men

33

39

36

30

35

Women

32

37

31

32

33

Total

32

38

33

31

34

National adaptation to global indicators

WHO’s definition of the indicator

Indicator 7. Age-standardised prevalence of physically active persons aged 18+ years (defined as less than 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week, or equivalent). 

National adaptation

WHO’s indicator is based on self-reporting. We present both measurement data based on device measured physical activity using accelerometers and data based on self-report (International Physical Activity Questionnaire). 

The data shown are representative of the age distribution in the Norwegian National Physical Activity Survey (NNPAS1 and NNPAS2). The data are not age-standardised.

History

24.11.2021: General updates to text

The webpage is compiled by the Department of Sports Medicine at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences and the Department of Non-communicable Diseases at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.