Aim: To identify and describe the characteristics of naturally occurring patterns of exercise, sitting in leisure time and at work and cardiorespiratory fitness, and the association of such profiles with metabolic risk factors, perceived health, and perceived symptoms.
Methods: 64,970 participants (42% women, 18-75 years) participating in an occupational health service screening in 2014-2018 were included. Exercise and sitting were self-reported. Cardiorespiratory fitness was estimated using a submaximal cycle test. Latent profile analysis was used to identify profiles. BMI and blood pressure were assessed through physical examination. Perceived back/neck pain, overall stress, global health, and sleeping problems were self-reported.
Results: Six profiles based on exercise, sitting in leisure time and at work and cardiorespiratory fitness were identified and labelled; Profile 1 "Inactive, low fit and average sitting in leisure, with less sitting at work"; Profile 2 "Inactive, low fit and sedentary"; Profile 3 "Active and average fit, with less sitting at work"; Profile 4 "Active, average fit and sedentary in leisure, with a sedentary work" (the most common profile, 35% of the population); Profile 5 "Active and fit, with a sedentary work"; Profile 6 "Active and fit, with less sitting at work". Some pairwise similarities were found between profiles (1 and 2, 3 and 4, 5 and 6), mainly based on similar levels of exercise, leisure time sitting and fitness, which translated into similar dose-response associations with the outcomes. In general, profile 1 and 2 demonstrated most adverse metabolic and perceived health, profile 4 had a more beneficial health than profile 3, as did profile 6 compared to profile 5.
Conclusions: The present results implies a large variation in exercise, sitting, and fitness when studying naturally occurring patterns, and emphasize the possibility to target exercise, sitting time, and/or fitness in health enhancing promotion intervention and strategies.