Time trends in physical activity from 1982 to 2012 in Finland

Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2016 Jan;26(1):93-100. doi: 10.1111/sms.12401. Epub 2015 Jan 6.


The aim of this study was to examine population trends from 1982 to 2012 in Finland for leisure time physical activity (LTPA), commuting physical activity (CPA), occupational physical activity (OPA), and total physical activity. Furthermore, time trends in physical activity by educational levels and body mass index (BMI) categories were explored. Data were collected in independent cross-sectional population surveys, implemented every 5 years from 1982 to 2012. The data comprised 21,903 men and 24,311 women. Participants underwent a health examination and filled in questionnaires. Information on LTPA, CPA, and OPA was used both separately and combined to create an index of total physical activity. Between 1982 and 2012, high LTPA has increased in men (from 21% to 33%) and women (from 12% to 27%). High CPA and high OPA have decreased in men (from 17% to 12% and from 48% to 36%, respectively) and women (from 30% to 20% and from 26% to 21%, respectively). Total physical activity has remained fairly stable. Differences by education and BMI have increased, particularly for LTPA. Marked changes in physical activity have taken place over time. Differences in LTPA and OPA have grown wider across educational groups and BMI categories.

Keywords: Exercise; physical activity; secular trend; surveillance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Body Mass Index*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Motor Activity*
  • Occupations / trends
  • Physical Examination
  • Protective Factors
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Transportation / methods*