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BMC Public Health. 2014 May 29;14:529. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-14-529.

Prevalence and correlates of leisure-time physical activity among Nigerians.

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Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, 677 Huntington Avenue, Boston MA 02115, USA.



Physical inactivity levels are rising in many countries with major implications for the prevalence of non-communicable diseases and the general health of the population worldwide. We conducted this study to examine leisure-time physical activity levels among African adults in an urban setting.


We conducted a cross-sectional study among a random sample of 1,058 adults at a government worksite, in Abuja, an urban Nigerian city. We used log-binomial regression models to estimate the multivariable-adjusted associations of correlates of physical activity.


The mean age of the study population was 42 ± 9.3 years, 60% were men and 40% were women. The mean metabolic equivalent hours per week for all the participants was 6.8 ± 7.2. In univariate analysis comparing the lowest to highest tertiles of physical activity, the prevalence ratio (PR) and (95% confidence interval, CI) was 0.95 (0.81-1.11) p = 0.49, comparing women to men; compared to those aged <30 years the PR (95% CI) was 0.70 (0.57-0.86), 0.70 (0.58-0.85) and 0.78 (0.63-0.96) for age 30-39, 40-49 and ≥50 years respectively, p for trend = 0.03; compared to those who were normal weight, the PR was 0.93 (0.79-1.10) and 0.90 (0.74-1.09) for overweight and obese persons respectively, p = 0.26. The PR for age was attenuated to non-significant levels in multivariable analyses. Being married was a statistically significant correlate of higher physical activity levels, the PR comparing unmarried to married persons in multivariate analysis was 0.81 (0.67-0.97), p = 0.03.


More than 80% of urban, professional Nigerian adults do not meet the WHO recommendations of physical activity. Urbanized Africans in this study population had low levels of leisure-time physical activity, independent of age, sex and body-mass index. This has major implications for the prevalence of non-communicable diseases in this population.

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