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Prev Med. 2000 Dec;31(6):665-72.

Physical inactivity in the Baltic countries.

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European Centre on Health of Societies in Transition, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom.



Physical inactivity is a known risk factor for heart disease and obesity, two major health problems in the Baltic Republics. This study examined patterns of physical activity level in these countries, and correlates of leisure-time sedentary behavior.


Data from three national surveys of adults conducted in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania in 1997 were used. Respondents who provided information on their activity level were included in this study (Estonia: n = 2,018; Latvia: n = 2,303; Lithuania: n = 2,140).


One in three Estonians and one in five Latvians and Lithuanians had a low physical activity level at work. Half the respondents (Lithuania: 60%, Latvia: 52%, Estonia: 43%) participated only in sedentary activities during their leisure time. Leisure-time sedentarity was inversely related to education level in men and women and with income in men. It was also associated with smoking in men and with inadequate vegetable intake in men and women.


Sedentary behavior during leisure time should be a public health issue in the Baltic Republics. Health promotion strategies aiming at increasing leisure-time physical activity level will need to target the general population, but particularly individuals from lower socioeconomic strata.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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