Open Access Research

Awareness of chronic disease related health benefits of physical activity among residents of a rural South Indian region: a cross-sectional study

Sundar Kumar Veluswamy1*, Arun G Maiya12, Suma Nair3, Vasudeva Guddattu4, Narayanapillai Sreekumaran Nair4 and Sudha Vidyasagar5

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Physiotherapy, School of Allied Health Sciences, Manipal University, Manipal, India

2 Dr. TMA Pai Endowment Chair in Exercise Science and Health Promotion, Manipal University, Manipal, India

3 Department of Community Medicine, Kasturba Medical College, Manipal University, Manipal, India

4 Department of Statistics, Manipal University, Manipal, India

5 Department of Medicine, Kasturba Medical College, Manipal University, Manipal, India

For all author emails, please log on.

International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2014, 11:27  doi:10.1186/1479-5868-11-27

Published: 27 February 2014

Abstract

Background

Physical activity trends for a lower-middle income country like India suggest a gradual decline in work related physical activity and no concomitant increase in leisure time physical activity. Perceived health benefits of physical activity and intention to increase physical activity have been established as independent correlates of physical activity status. In India, not much is known about peoples’ perceptions of health benefits of physical activity and their intention to increase physical activity levels. This study was performed to understand peoples’ perceptions and awareness about health benefits of physical activity in a rural South Indian region.

Methods

This cross-sectional study was conducted using a multistage cluster sampling design. A content validated, field tested questionnaire was administered in person by a trained interviewer in the participants’ native language. The questionnaire assessed the participants’ perceptions about their lifestyle (active or sedentary), health benefits of physical activity and need for increasing their physical activity. In addition, the participant’s physical activity was assessed using version 2 of global physical activity questionnaire. Frequencies and percentages were used to summarise perceived health benefits of physical activity and other categorical variables. Age and body mass index were summarised using mean ± SD, whereas physical activity (MET.min.wk −1) was summarised using median and interquartile range.

Results

Four hundred fifty members from 125 randomly selected households were included in the study, of which 409 members participated. 89% (364) of participants felt they lead an active lifestyle and 83.1% (340) of participants did not feel a need to increase their physical activity level. 86.1%, (352) of the participants were physically active. Though 92.4% (378) of participants felt there were health benefits of physical activity, majority of them (75.1%) did not report any benefit related to chronic diseases. None mentioned health benefits related to heart disease or stroke.

Conclusion

There is low awareness of chronic disease related benefits of physical activity and participants do not see a need to increase their physical activity level. Public health awareness programs on importance and health benefits of physical activity would be useful to counter the anticipated decline in physical activity.

Keywords:
Perceived health benefits; Knowledge; Lower-middle income countries; Leisure time physical activity