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Physical activity and sedentary behaviours among rural adults in suixi, china: a cross-sectional study

Ding Ding12*, James F Sallis3, Melbourne F Hovell1, Jianzhong Du4, Miao Zheng4, Haiying He4 and Neville Owen5

Author Affiliations

1 Graduate School of Public Health, San Diego State University, San Diego, California, USA

2 Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of California-San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA

3 Department of Psychology, San Diego State University, San Diego, California, USA

4 Department of Chemistry, Zhanjiang Normal University, Zhanjiang, Guangdong, China

5 Cancer Prevention Research Centre, School of Population Health, University of Queensland, Herston, Queensland, Australia

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International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2011, 8:37  doi:10.1186/1479-5868-8-37

Published: 26 April 2011



Modernisation and urbanisation have led to lifestyle changes and increasing risks for chronic diseases in China. Physical activity and sedentary behaviours among rural populations need to be better understood, as the rural areas are undergoing rapid transitions. This study assessed levels of physical activity and sedentary behaviours of farming and non-farming adults in rural Suixi, described activity differences between farming and non-farming seasons, and examined correlates of leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) and TV viewing.


A random sample of rural adults (n = 287) in Suixi County, Guangdong, China were surveyed in 2009 by trained interviewers. Questionnaires assessed multiple physical activities and sedentary behaviours, and their correlates. Analysis of covariance compared activity patterns across occupations, and multiple logistic regressions assessed correlates of LTPA and TV viewing. Quantitative data analyses were followed by community consultation for validation and interpretation of findings.


Activity patterns differed by occupation. Farmers were more active through their work than other occupations, but were less active and more sedentary during the non-farming season than the farming season. Rural adults in Suixi generally had a low level of LTPA and a high level of TV viewing. Marital status, household size, social modelling for LTPA and owning sports equipment were significantly associated with LTPA but not with TV time. Most findings were validated through community consultation.


For chronic disease prevention, attention should be paid to the currently decreasing occupational physical activity and increasing sedentary behaviours in rural China. Community and socially-based initiatives provide opportunities to promote LTPA and prevent further increase in sedentary behaviours.