The question of why certain people are more physically active than others is examined by an international research team in the second paper in The Lancet Series on physical activity.

The researchers say more studies need to be done in low and middle income countries where 80% of non-communicable diseases exist; because even though they have made substantial profess in the past two decades, the research has been focusing on individual level factors (sex, age, socioeconomic status) in high-income countries alone.

Adrian Bauman, from the University of Syndey said:

“Targeting factors known to cause inactivity is key to improving and designing effective interventions to increase activity levels. However, most studies of physical activity have assessed correlates (factors associated with activity) in small, non-representative samples rather than providing longitudinal evidence that could identify factors with a stronger causal relationship.”

A small amount of consistent correlates appearing to have an impact on whether people are physically active or not was identified in the review. These include health status, adults’ intention to exercise, being young, male, or wealthy, self-efficacy (having the confidence that they have the ability to exercise), previous experiences being physical active at all ages, and family and social support during adolescent years.

According to new indications, genetics might play a role in physical activity. Some people could be genetically predisposed to being physically active, but certain evolutionary factors and obesity could add to the chances of becoming inactive.

Bauman and his team say that even though they have made great progress, this progress has only helped a few developed countries. No one has yet to research low-income countries where they have no previous evidence to help them increase physical activity.

They finished by saying:

“Future research needs to have a stronger focus on causal determinants rather than just repetition of cross-sectional correlates studies, especially in low and middle income countries. This improved understanding will be vital to reducing the effect of future epidemics of inactivity and contribute to effective global prevention of non-communicable diseases.”

Written by Sarah Glynn