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Relationship between objective measures of physical activity and weather: a longitudinal study.

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  • 1Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, PE, Canada.



The weather may be a barrier to physical activity but objective assessment of this hypothesis is lacking. Therefore we evaluated the effect of temperature, rain or snow, and wind speed on the daily physical activity of adults.


This report contains data from 25 males (BMI (mean +/- SD): 28.7 +/- 3.83 kg/m2) and 177 females (BMI: 29.2 +/- 5.92 kg/m2) enrolled in an intervention to increase physical activity. Steps/day of the participants was measured by pedometer. Weather data were obtained from Environment Canada. A total of 8,125 observations were included in a mixed linear model analysis.


Significant weather related variables (at the 5% level) impacting steps/day included: seasonal effects related to the interaction between weekday and month; mean temperature, total rainfall, interactions between gender, BMI and total snow, interactions between maximum wind speed and BMI, and the amount of snow on the ground. The estimated magnitudes for the various effects were modest, ranging from approximately 1% to approximately 20%. Thus for an average individual taking approximately 10,000 steps/day, weather-dependent changes in physical activity could reach 2,000 steps/day.


We conclude that weather had modest effects on physical activity of participants in an intervention to increase their activity. It should be stressed that these effects may be different for less or more motivated people. With this in mind, we suggest that the effect of weather on physical activity in the general population needs to be objectively assessed to better understand the barrier it poses, especially as it relates to outdoor recreation or work activities.

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