Physical activity and cardiovascular disease risk factors among young and middle-aged men in urban Mwanza, Tanzania

Pan Afr Med J. 2012:11:11. Epub 2012 Jan 20.


Background: Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) risk factors are increasing at an unprecedented rate in developing countries. However, fewer studies have evaluated the role of physical activity in preventing CVD in these countries. We assessed level physical activity and its relationship with CVD risk factors among young and middle aged men in a fast growing city of Mwanza in Tanzania.

Methods: Physical activity was assessed among 97 healthy men aged 20-50 years using Sub-Saharan Africa Activity Questionnaire. An updated compendium of physical activity was used to code the metabolic equivalent. Energy expenditure was calculated using Harris Benedict equation. Anthropometric measurements, blood pressure, fasting blood glucose and serum lipids were also measured.

Results: The mean energy expenditure in this population was 6,466 ± 252 kcal/week. More than half (53.6%) of the participants had energy expenditure of ≥ 4,000 kcal/week. Only three (3.1%) had energy expenditure below the recommended 1,000 kcal/week. Except for hypertension, prevalence of CVD risk factors was low in this population; hypertension 23.7%, low HDL-cholesterol 10.3%, high LDL-cholesterol 9.3% and obesity 4.1%. Physical activity energy expenditure had an inversely relationship with waist to hip ratio, systolic blood pressure, heart rate, total cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, triglycerides and fasting blood glucose.

Conclusion: Physical activity energy expenditure was high in this population and was inversely correlated with CVD risk factors. Physical activity may play an important role in the prevention of CVD in this urban population of young and middle aged men.

Keywords: Nutrition transition; Occupation intensity; Physical activity energy expenditure; Tanzania; Urbanization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Lipids / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tanzania / epidemiology
  • Urban Health
  • Young Adult


  • Lipids