Of weekend warriors and couch potatoes: Socio-economic determinants of physical activity in Swiss middle-aged adults

Prev Med. 2017 Dec:105:350-355. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2017.10.016. Epub 2017 Oct 6.


Determinants of the interplay between physical activity (PA) and sedentary (SE) status are poorly known. We assessed the socio-economic determinants of PA and SE behaviours and patterns in a population-based study (The CoLaus study, Lausanne, Switzerland, 2014-2017). 2229 adults (51.8% women, age range 45-86 years) had PA and SE levels measured for 14 days using a wrist-worn accelerometer. Four activity behaviours: (1) 'Couch potato': low PA & high SE; (2) 'Light mover': low PA & low SE; (3) 'Sedentary exerciser': high PA & high SE, and (4) 'Busy bee': high PA & low SE; and three activity patterns: (1) 'Inactive', (2) 'Weekend warrior', and (3) 'Regularly active' were defined. Employment, household income and educational level were collected by questionnaire. For activity behaviours, relative to 'Couch potatoes', multivariate analysis showed that being employed and having a low educational level were positively associated with 'Light movers': relative risk ratios and (95% confidence interval): 1.54 (1.00-2.37) and 1.73 (1.11-2.69), respectively, and also with 'Busy bees': 1.49 (1.09-2.04) and 1.71 (1.26-2.32), respectively. High household income was negatively associated with 'Light movers': 0.58 (0.34-0.97) and positively with 'Sedentary exercisers': 1.85 (1.10-3.10). For activity patterns, relative to 'Inactives', being employed and having a high household income were positively associated with 'Weekend warriors': 1.78 (1.26-2.50) and 1.59 (1.07-2.36), respectively, while having a low educational level was positively associated with 'Regularly actives': 1.76 (1.32-2.34). Employment, educational level and household income are significantly but differently associated with activity behaviours and patterns.

Keywords: Accelerometry; Epidemiology; Pattern; Physical activity; Sedentary behaviour; Socio-economic.

MeSH terms

  • Accelerometry / methods
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sedentary Behavior*
  • Socioeconomic Factors*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Switzerland