Increasing municipal resources does not automatically increase residents’ physical activity

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A follow-up study at the University of Eastern Finland shows that resources used by municipalities for physical activity do not automatically increase physical activity. More than resources, individual factors influence physical activity behavior. The most educated and healthiest people practiced more leisure-time physical activity than the less educated or those in poorer health. Men were more physically active in their leisure time than women, while women were more physically active while commuting.

The emphasis on the importance of individual factors suggests that even the best physical activity facilities and opportunities do not make people physically active if they lack their own personal motivation and interest in physical activity. In Finland, the infrastructure for physical activity is already so comprehensive that simply increasing resources does not automatically increase residents’ physical activity.”


Virpi Kuvaja-Köllner, PhD student

The study also showed that commuting physical activity was lower in rural municipalities than in cities.

“This is because distances in rural areas are often longer, and public transport is less available than in town, so travel is often done with one’s own car. In town, people commuting can be combined with cycling or walking and, if necessary, public transport.

According to Kuvaja-Köllner, the results of the study published in the prestigious BMC Public Health newspaper encourage reflection on the allocation of municipal resources in terms of physical activity and sport in order to best promote physical activity among citizens.

An eleven-year follow-up survey combined data from Statistics Finland and the Health 2000 and 2011 population surveys. In this study, only people with the same place of residence in 2000 and 2011 were followed. 3,193 people from 115 municipalities answered the questions on physical activity for leisure and 1,394 people from 110 municipalities answered the questions on physical activity while traveling. The indicators of the sports resources and environment of the municipalities were the amount of euros spent by the municipalities on sport, the kilometers of pedestrian and cycle paths, the surface area of ​​the parks and the number of sports organizations that received subsidies in 1999 and 2010.

Source:

University of Eastern Finland

Journal reference:

Kuvaja-Köllner, V., et al. (2022) Municipal resources to promote adult physical activity – a multilevel follow-up study. BMC Public Health. doi.org/10.1186/s12889-022-13617-8.

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