Income and Physical Activity among Adults: Evidence from Self-Reported and Pedometer-Based Physical Activity Measurements

PLoS One. 2015 Aug 28;10(8):e0135651. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0135651. eCollection 2015.


This study examined the relationship between income and physical activity by using three measures to illustrate daily physical activity: the self-reported physical activity index for leisure-time physical activity, pedometer-based total steps for overall daily physical activity, and pedometer-based aerobic steps that reflect continuous steps for more than 10 min at a time. The study population consisted of 753 adults from Finland (mean age 41.7 years; 64% women) who participated in 2011 in the follow-up of the ongoing Young Finns study. Ordinary least squares models were used to evaluate the associations between income and physical activity. The consistency of the results was explored by using register-based income information from Statistics Finland, employing the instrumental variable approach, and dividing the pedometer-based physical activity according to weekdays and weekend days. The results indicated that higher income was associated with higher self-reported physical activity for both genders. The results were robust to the inclusion of the control variables and the use of register-based income information. However, the pedometer-based results were gender-specific and depended on the measurement day (weekday vs. weekend day). In more detail, the association was positive for women and negative or non-existing for men. According to the measurement day, among women, income was positively associated with aerobic steps despite the measurement day and with totals steps measured on the weekend. Among men, income was negatively associated with aerobic steps measured on weekdays. The results indicate that there is an association between income and physical activity, but the association is gender-specific and depends on the measurement type of physical activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Income*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity*
  • Self Report
  • Socioeconomic Factors

Grant support

This study was funded by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture and the Juho Vainio Foundation, The Young Finns Study has been financially supported by the Academy of Finland: grants 134309 (Eye), 126925, 121584, 124282, 129378 (Salve), 117797 (Gendi), and 41071 (Skidi); the Social Insurance Institution of Finland, Kuopio, Tampere and Turku University Hospital Medical Funds, Juho Vainio Foundation, Sigrid Juselius Foundation, Paavo Nurmi Foundation, Finnish Foundation of Cardiovascular Research and Finnish Cultural Foundation, Tampere Tuberculosis Foundation and Emil Aaltonen Foundation. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.