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Participation in physical activity in relation to different life-change events


  • Katarina Sjögren

Summary, in English

Regular physical activity is understood to be an essential prerequisite for human health for both psychological and physiological well-being. However, there are differences in participation in physical activity among different groups in society, and participation in physical activity can also change over a lifetime. The general aim of this thesis was to investigate how different life-change events may affect participation in physical activity. Life-change events studied are pregnancy, parenthood, getting older and living with a chronic disease (osteoarthritis).

Paper I included 999 individuals and aimed to investigate the extent to which outdoor recreational physical activity was carried out during one year, and the factors influencing such activities from a gender perspective among individuals > 60 years of age. Results showed that being independent physically and healthy enough to manage one’s personal hygiene and having access to areas for country walks were the most important factors associated with the probability of engaging in outdoor recreational physical activity for both women and men, but more factors were associated with limitations for women. Paper II included baseline data from 432 individuals and aimed to investigate participation in outdoor recreational physical activity, and factors influencing participation among parents-to-be, with and without previous children, from a gender perspective. Participation in physical activity indoors and owning a dog or a horse emerged as the most important factors associated with the probability of participation in outdoor recreational physical activity. Men were affected by a greater number of factors than women. Paper III involved 270 individuals and aimed to follow changing physical activity patterns among women and men during pregnancy compared to before pregnancy. Changes in physical activity patterns during pregnancy compared to before pregnancy were seen among both women and men, as both groups were more physically active before than during pregnancy. Paper IV included 100 individuals and aimed to investigate how physical activity at different frequencies affects individuals with osteoarthritis. Individuals who were moderately physically active rated their health best, had the lowest Body Mass Index and best function of the lower and the upper extremity. Women used more drugs against their osteoarthritis than men and were more afraid that their joints would be harmed by physical activity.

The main findings indicate that all four life-change events affect participation in physical activity among both women and men, but in different ways and to different extents. Thus, a gender perspective seems to be important to consider both in research and when planning health-promoting activities for different groups to make people become or stay physically active, but also age and socioeconomic factors need to be taken into account. In the studied populations, women were not less physically active than men, but overall, more factors were found to be associated with limitations for women to participate in physical activity, and fear was found to be one of the most limiting factors. Even accessibility is an important aspect to take into account when studying factors associated with physical activity since having access to areas for country walks was found as an important factor for participation.






Lund University Faculty of Medicine Doctoral Dissertation Series






Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Lund University


  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology




  • Family Medicine and Community Medicine



  • ISSN: 1652-8220
  • ISBN: 978-91-87449-99-4


28 augusti 2013




Aulan, Clinical Research Centre, Ingång 72, Skånes Universitetssjukhus i Malmö


  • Anders Raustorp