Living in a low socioeconomic status (SES) area is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events and all-cause mortality. Previous studies have suggested a socioeconomic gradient in daily physical activity (PA), but have mainly relied on self-reported data, and individual rather than residential area SES. This study aimed to investigate the relationships between residential area SES, PA pattern, compliance with PA-recommendations and fitness in a Swedish middle-aged population, using objective measurements. We included 948 individuals from the SCAPIS pilot study (Gothenburg, Sweden, 2012, stratified for SES, 49% women, median age: 58 years), in three low and three high SES districts. Accelerometer data were summarized into intensity-specific categories: sedentary (SED), low (LIPA), and medium-to-vigorous PA (MVPA). Fitness was estimated by submaximal ergometer testing. Participants of low SES areas had a more adverse cardiovascular disease risk factor profile (smoking: 20% vs. 6%; diabetes: 9% vs. 3%; hypertension: 38% vs. 25%; obesity: 31% vs. 13%), and less frequently reached 150 min of MVPA per week (67% vs. 77%, odds ratio [OR] = 0.61; 95% confidence interval [95% CI] = 0.46-0.82), from 10-minute bouts (19% vs. 31%, OR = 0.53, 95% CI = 0.39-0.72). Individuals in low SES areas showed lower PA levels (mean cpm: 320 vs. 348) and daily average MVPA (29.9 vs. 35.5 min), and 12% lower fitness (25.1 vs. 28.5 mL × min(- 1) × kg(- 1)) than did those in high SES areas. Reduced PA and fitness levels may contribute to social inequalities in health, and should be a target for improved public health in low SES areas.
Keywords: Motor activity; Physical fitness; Social class.