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Open Access Research

Physical activity level and its sociodemographic correlates in a peri-urban Nepalese population: a cross-sectional study from the Jhaukhel-Duwakot health demographic surveillance site

Abhinav Vaidya13* and Alexandra Krettek23

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Community Medicine, Kathmandu Medical College, Kathmandu, Nepal

2 Department of Internal Medicine and Clinical Nutrition, Institute of Medicine, Sahlgrenska Academy at University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden

3 Nordic School of Public Health NHV, Gothenburg, Sweden

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International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2014, 11:39  doi:10.1186/1479-5868-11-39

Published: 14 March 2014

Abstract

Background

Physical inactivity is a leading risk factor for cardiovascular and other noncommunicable diseases in high-, low- and middle-income countries. Nepal, a low-income country in South Asia, is undergoing an epidemiological transition. Although the reported national prevalence of physical inactivity is relatively low, studies in urban and peri-urban localities have always shown higher prevalence. Therefore, this study aimed to measure physical activity in three domains—work, travel and leisure—in a peri-urban community and assess its variations across different sociodemographic correlates.

Methods

Adult participants (n = 640) from six randomly selected wards of the Jhaukhel-Duwakot Health Demographic Surveillance Site (JD-HDSS) near Kathmandu responded to the Global Physical Activity Questionnaire. To determine total physical activity, we calculated the metabolic equivalent of task in minutes/week for each domain and combined the results. Respondents were categorized into high, moderate or low physical activity. We also calculated the odds ratio for low physical activity in various sociodemographic variables and self-reported cardiometabolic states.

Results

The urbanizing JD-HDSS community showed a high prevalence of low physical activity (43.3%; 95% CI 39.4–47.1). Work-related activity contributed most to total physical activity. Furthermore, women and housewives and older, more educated and self-or government-employed respondents showed a greater prevalence of physical inactivity. Respondents with hypertension, diabetes or overweight/obesity reported less physical activity than individuals without those conditions. Only 5% of respondents identified physical inactivity as a cardiovascular risk factor.

Conclusions

Our findings reveal a high burden of physical inactivity in a peri-urban community of Nepal. Improving the level of physical activity involves sensitizing people to its importance through appropriate multi-sector strategies that provide encouragement across all sociodemographic groups.

Keywords:
Cardiovascular disease; Ethnicity; Occupation; Smoking; Hypertension; Diabetes