Thursday December 07, 2023

42% adults engage in adequate physical activity

Published : 27 Oct 2023, 14:57

  DF Report
File Photo: Visit Finland by Mikko Huotari.

Less than half of men and women aged over 20 reached the current physical activity guidelines for health-enhancing physical activity, said the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) in a press release on Thursday referring to a study.

Forty-six per cent of men and 38 per cent of women reached the physical activity guidelines.

The recommendation for health-enhancing physical activity covers physical activity at work, on the way to and from work, and during free time. The recommendation is met by engaging in weekly physical activity that raises the heart rate for at least 2 hours and 30 minutes or by doing vigorous physical activity for at least 1 hour and 15 minutes, and maintains muscle strength and movement control at least twice a week.

The oldest people are the least physically active. About 31 per cent of men and 23 per cent of women aged 75 and over meet the recommended amount of physical activity.

Men aged 20-39 were the most likely to meet the physical activity recommendations, of whom 52 per cent engage in sufficient physical activity.

However, it is positive that three out of four Finnish people report they engage in some physical activity in their free time.

At the level of the population, this corresponds to more than three million active people. In their free time, they walk, cycle, fish, hunt or do light gardening, for example.

However, a significantly lower number of adults meet the recommendation for health-enhancing physical activity.

Time spent in front of a screen reduces the amount of physical activity. Forty-five per cent of men and 39 per cent of women sit in front of a screen more than three hours a day in their leisure time.

“Physical activity maintains work ability and functional capacity. It is good that the importance of physical activity has been understood in our society and, for example, different ways to encourage people to be physically active have been included in the government programme,” said Senior Researcher Jouni Lahti.

“Physical inactivity leads to health problems and increases healthcare and social welfare costs. From the point of view of public health and the national economy, it must be ensured that people have equal opportunities to engage in exercise and physical activity. Particular attention should be paid to those with a low socio-economic status and older people,” Lahti added.

The results are revealed by THL’s Healthy Finland Survey, which was carried out in autumn 2022 and spring 2023.

“These aspects of lifestyle should be paid attention to at the same time in health promotion work. Physical activity, sleep and nutrition form an entity: a healthy change in one of these three is reflected in the other two,” said Senior Researcher Niina Kaartinen.

The study also said that about 20 per cent of adults think they do not get enough sleep. Insufficient sleep is most common among people aged 40–54, of whom just under one third sleep too little.

It recommended that an adult should sleep between seven and nine 9 hours each night.

One fifth of both men and women are night owls. The proportion of night owls is the largest in the age group of 20–39-year-olds, in which just under one third are night owls.

Both insufficient sleep and staying up late are becoming more common, said the study.

“Staying up late is often linked with insufficient sleep. The daily rhythm can be made more regular by following a meal pattern and doing physical activity either in the morning or in the afternoon. This improves sleep, reduces the sleep debt and is likely to promote health,” said Research Professor Timo Partonen.

A total of 61,000 randomly selected persons aged 20 and over from different parts of Finland were invited to the questionnaire section of the Healthy Finland survey.