Regular physical activity leads to a number of physiological benefits, such as reduced risk of coronary heart disease, diabetes mellitus and obesity. In Austria, there is little information about the prevalence of physically inactive people, as well as about who is more likely to belong to the inactive or irregularly active groups. The aim of this study is to describe the socio-demographic distributions across the stages of behavioural change for moderate- and vigorous-intensity physical activity, according to the Transtheoretical Model, and to identify associations with smoking and body mass index (BMI).
Data were collected in a standardised procedure using a self-report questionnaire from 489 adults who attended a health check in an outpatient clinic in southern Austria. Height and weight were measured by physicians. The subjects were categorised into the five stages of change (pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance), separately assessed for moderate- and vigorous-intensity physical activity.
The likelihood of being in the stage of maintenance of moderate-intensity physical activity was highest in older subjects (p < 0.05). Participants of a high educational level showed the highest likelihood of being physically active in vigorous-intensity physical activity (p < 0.05). Furthermore, the lowest stages of change behaviour were associated with higher BMI levels for vigorous-intensity physical activity (p < 0.05). Smokers were significantly (p < 0.05) more likely not to perform vigorous-intensity physical activity than non-smokers.
Our findings contribute to a better understanding of behavioural correlates of regular physical activity. The results may prove useful for developing promotion programmes for physical activity, allowing targeting of the identified risk groups.