Makavelou S. et al.
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PHYSICAL ACTIVITY OF ADUT WOMEN IN GREECE.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN URBAN AND RURAL
Dept of Physical Education and Sport Science Democritus University of Thrace, Komotini, Greece
The aim of the present study was to determine habitual physical activity differences between adult women
residing in an urban area and adult women residing in a rural area in Greece. Additionally differences in
physical activity of high intensity, moderate intensity physical activity as well as walking were also
assessed. Subjects in this study were 198 adult women (41.2
8.3 years), 98 of them resided at the city of
Arta and 100 resided in villages in the respective prefecture. Physical activity was recorded with the long
version of the self administered International Physical Activity Questionnaire (Craig et al., 2003). The
dependent variables that were included in data analysis included the total score of physical activity, the
score of high intensity physical activity, moderate intensity physical activity and walking. “Place of
residence” was the constant factor used in the analysis of data. According to the results of the ANOVA
Multiple Analysis of Variance a significant residence effect was reported for the factor area of residence
for total physical activity score (F
= 6,075, p = .05) in favor of women residing in urban districts.
Additionally, according to the results of Multiple Analysis of Variance adult women residing in urban
districts were significant more active in physical activity related to work (F
= 14,908, p = .000) and
to recreation (F
= 7,230, p = .008). Women residing in rural areas scored higher in physical activity
related to taking care of others and the house (F
= 83,667, p = .000). No differences were detected in
physical activity related to transportation (F
= 1,127, p = .290). In conclusion women residing in
villages in rural districts of Arta Prefecture were more active when compared to adult women residing in
the city of Arta only when taking care of others or the house.
Physical activity is associated with a reduction in all cause mortality, fatal and nonfatal total
cardiovascular disease, a reduction in the incidence of obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus, colon cancer, and
osteoporosis (Kesaniemi et al., 2001). As a result, regular physical activity is strongly recommended by
numerous organizations for its health benefits, including the Surgeon General’s Report on physical
activity and health (CDC, 1996). Despite such recommendations, fewer than 40% of adults in the Western
world currently participate in regular physical activity (Seefeldt etal., 2002), suggesting an urgent need to
implement interventions and programs to promote physical activity in the population. While numerous
physical activity interventions or programs have been developed and evaluated, such initiatives have
produced varied results, with limited impact on overall population rates of physical activity. Further
research is therefore required to gain a better understanding of the predictors of physical activity
(Baranowski et al., 1998, Bauman et al., 2002) as these factors may then be targeted in programs designed
to promote physical activity (Sallis & Owen, 1999). Recent reviews of physical activity correlates in
adults indicate that this is a multifactorial behavior influenced by demographic, biological, psychological,
behavioral, social and/or cultural, and physical environmental factors (Trost et al., 2002). Among the
most common correlates of physical activity are ‘self-efficacy’ (positive association), ‘social support’
(positive association), ‘gender’ (males engage in higher levels of physical activity than females), and
‘age’ (younger people are more active than older people). The purpose of this study was to determine
differences in adult women’s physical activity that reside in urban and rural areas in Greece.
Makavelou S. et al.
EQOL (2009) 25-27
Participants in this study were 198 women aged 36.9
4.5 years who volunteered to participate in this
study after being informed about its content and purpose. Participants were requited through an
advertising campaign that was instantiated by the Municipal Center for Sport in a Prefecture.
Instruments and Procedure
Physical activity was assessed with the use of the long self - administered version of the
International Physical Activity Questionnaire (Craig et al., 2003) This long version (31 items) was
designed to collect detailed information within the domains of household and yard work activities,
occupational activity, self-powered transport, and leisure-time physical activity as well as sedentary
activity. The data collected was summed in order to estimate the total time spent in vigorous PA,
moderate intensity PA and walking and then used to estimate as a continuous variable the total weekly PA
by weighting the reported minutes per week within each activity category by a MET energy expenditure
estimate assigned to each category of activity. MET levels were obtained from the 2000 Compendium of
physical activities to include walking (3.3 MET) moderate-intensity activities (4 MET) and vigorous-
intensity activities (8 MET). Cut points were also used in order to create a categorical variable according
to which PA can be characterized as high, sufficient and insufficient. Height and weight measured in
order to compute body mass index (BMI) as kg/m2.
Analysis of data
Analysis of data included descriptive statistics of all variables included in this study. One way
analysis of Variance was conducted in order to determine the effect of district of residence on total PA
score. A Manova was conducted in order to determine the effect of of the factor district of residence on
the dependent variables of walking, moderate intensity physical activity and high intensity physical
activity. The level of significance was set at p = .05
Physical characteristics of the participants in this study are presented in Table 1.
Physical characteristics and physical activity scoreof the participants in this study M(SD).
Physical Activity (MET)
According to the results of the ANOVA Multiple Analysis of Variance a significant residence
effect was reported for the factor area of residence for total physical activity score (F
= 6,075, p =
.05) in favor of women residing in urban districts.
Additionally, according to the results of Multiple Analysis of Variance adult women residing in
urban districts were significant more active in physical activity related to work (F
= 14,908, p = .000)
and to recreation (F
= 7,230, p = .008). Women residing in rural areas scored higher in physical
activity related to taking care of others and the house (F
= 83,667, p = .000). No differences were
detected in physical activity related to transportation (F
= 1,127, p = .290) (Table 2).
Physical activity (PA) Scores (MET) for all the participants in this study M (SD) according to
PA Taking care of others
Makavelou S. et al.
EQOL (2009) 25-27
To date, few studies have examined the determinants of physical activity in rural and urban middle aged
women. Determinant studies such as ours are important as a first step in designing interventions that meet
the unique needs of understudied groups. The findings in this study support that female participants
residing in urban areas were more active the ones residing in rural areas, a finding that has been
previously reported by the literature (Wilcox etal., 2000; Brownson
.1, 2000). Urban women were
more active than rural women as physical activity related to work and recreation was concerned. On the
contrary rural women were more active when physical activity related to taking care to others and the
house was concerned. These findings may be related to the fact that women in rural areas in Greece do
not often work (official employment) and at the same time perform on a daily basis numerous physical
activities that are necessary for every day life (e.g. chopping wood for the fireplace, taking care of house
animals and of the vegetable garden). Further research is needed to identify correlates of physical activity
in different subgroups to design more efficacious interventions.
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