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PLoS One. 2011;6(10):e24898. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0024898. Epub 2011 Oct 14.

Socio-demographic patterning of physical activity across migrant groups in India: results from the Indian Migration Study.

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  • 1Department of Non-communicable Disease Epidemiology, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom.



To investigate the relationship between rural to urban migration and physical activity (PA) in India.


6,447 (42% women) participants comprising 2077 rural, 2,094 migrants and 2,276 urban were recruited. Total activity (MET hr/day), activity intensity (min/day), PA Level (PAL) television viewing and sleeping (min/day) were estimated and associations with migrant status examined, adjusting for the sib-pair design, age, site, occupation, education, and socio-economic position (SEP).


Total activity was highest in rural men whereas migrant and urban men had broadly similar activity levels (p<0.001). Women showed similar patterns, but slightly lower levels of total activity. Sedentary behaviour and television viewing were lower in rural residents and similar in migrant and urban groups. Sleep duration was highest in the rural group and lowest in urban non-migrants. Migrant men had considerably lower odds of being in the highest quartile of total activity than rural men, a finding that persisted after adjustment for age, SEP and education (OR 0.53, 95% CI 0.37, 0.74). For women, odds ratios attenuated and associations were removed after adjusting for age, SEP and education.


Our findings suggest that migrants have already acquired PA levels that closely resemble long-term urban residents. Effective public health interventions to increase PA are needed.

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