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Who is meeting the strengthening physical activity guidelines by definition: A cross-sectional study of 253 423 English adults?

Sandercock, Gavin RH and Moran, Jason and Cohen, Daniel D (2022) 'Who is meeting the strengthening physical activity guidelines by definition: A cross-sectional study of 253 423 English adults?' PLoS One, 17 (5). e0267277-e0267277. ISSN 1932-6203

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The current UK physical activity guidelines recommend that adults aged 19 to 65 years perform activity to strengthen muscle and bone a minimum of twice weekly. The number of adults meeting strengthening activity guidelines is lower than for aerobic activity, but estimates vary between studies partly due to differences in how muscle-strengthening activity is defined. We aimed to provide estimates for strengthening activity prevalence in English adults based on a nationally representative sample of n = 253,423 18-65-year-olds. We attempted to quantify the variation in estimates attributable to differences in the way strengthening activity is defined. Finally, we aim to provide a brief descriptive epidemiology of the factors associated with strengthening activity. Adults met guidelines for aerobic activity if they reported the activity equivalent to >150 min/week moderate-intensity exercise. Respondents met strengthening guidelines if they reported at least two bouts per week of strengthening activity. We defined strengthening activity, first, according to criteria used in the Health Survey for England (HSE). Second, we counted bouts of strengthening activities for which we could find evidence of health-related benefits (Evidence). Third, we included bouts of strengthening activity as defined in current UK physical activity guidelines (Guideline). Two-thirds (67%) of adults met guidelines for aerobic activity (69% of men, 65% of women). Less than one-third (29% of men and 24% of women) met guidelines for the HSE definition of strengthening activity. Under the Evidence definition, 16% of men and 9% of women met strengthening guidelines. Using the most-stringent definition (Guideline) just 7.3% of men and 4.1% of women achieved the recommendations for strengthening activity. We found females and older adults (50–65 years) were less likely to meet guidelines for aerobic, strengthening, and combined aerobic plus strengthening activity. The prevalence of meeting activity guidelines was lower in adults from more deprived areas (compared with the least deprived); Adults with lower academic qualifications (Level 1) were less likely to meet activity guidelines than those educated to Level 4 (Degree Level) or higher. Having a limiting disability was associated with a lower prevalence of meeting activity guidelines. Associations between socio-demographic measures and the prevalence of adults meeting activity guidelines were stronger for strengthening activity than for aerobic 51(or combined aerobic plus strengthening) activity Compared with aerobic activity, fewer adults engage in strengthening activity regardless of how it is defined. The range in estimates for how many adults meet strengthening activity guidelines can be explained by variations in the definition of ‘strengthening’ that are used and the specific sports or activities identified as strengthening exercise. When strengthening activity is included, the proportion of English adults meeting current physical activity guidelines could be as high as 1 in 3 but possibly as low as just 1 in 20. A harmonized definition of strengthening activity, that is aligned with physical activity guidelines, is required to provide realistic and comparable prevalence estimates.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Humans; Exercise; Exercise Therapy; Health Surveys; Cross-Sectional Studies; Sports; Aged; Female; Male
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health
Faculty of Science and Health > Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences, School of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 15 Jun 2022 08:03
Last Modified: 20 Jul 2022 16:54

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