Open Access Research

Time trends of physical activity and television viewing time in Brazil: 2006-2012

Grégore I Mielke1*, Pedro C Hallal1, Deborah C Malta2 and I-Min Lee3

Author Affiliations

1 Postgraduate Program in Epidemiology, Federal University of Pelotas, Pelotas, RS, Brazil

2 Ministry of Health, Brasília, DF, Brazil

3 Division of Preventive Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA

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International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2014, 11:101  doi:10.1186/s12966-014-0101-4

Published: 15 August 2014



Despite recent advances in surveillance of physical activity, data on time trends of physical activity in low and middle-income countries are lacking. This study describes time trends in physical activity and television viewing between 2006 and 2012 among Brazilian adults.


Data from 371,271 adult participants (18 + years) in the Surveillance System for Risk and Protective Factors for Chronic Illnesses using Telephone Survey (VIGITEL) were analysed. Time trends in leisure-time physical activity (≥ 5 days/wk; ≥ 30 min/day), transportation physical activity (using bicycle or walking for ≥ 30 minutes per day as a means of transportation to/from work) and proportion of participants spending more than three hours per day watching television were analysed. Annual changes according to sex, age and years of schooling were calculated.


There was an increase in leisure-time physical activity from 12.8% in 2006 to 14.9% in 2012 (annual increase of 1.9%; p < 0.001). This increase was more marked in younger participants and those with high-school education. Transportation physical activity decreased 12.9% per year (p < 0.001) from 2006 to 2008 and 5.8% per year from 2009 to 2012 (p < 0.001). The annual decline in television viewing time was 5% (p < 0.001) between 2006 and 2009 and 2% (p = 0.16) between 2010 and 2012.


National survey data from Brazil indicate that leisure-time physical activity appears to be increasing, while television viewing time appears to be decreasing in recent years. However, transportation physical activity has been declining. These data are important for informing national public health policies.

Physical activity; Trends; Surveillance; Epidemiology; Developing countries