6. Physical Activity
- In 2012, 70% of children aged 2-15 were active for at least 60 minutes a day (including school-based activity).
- The proportion of children meeting the physical activity guideline has not changed significantly since 2008 (71%).
- Boys were significantly more likely than girls to meet the physical activity guideline in 2012. (73% compared with 68%).
- Eight in ten children aged 5-7 met the physical activity guideline, by age 13-15 this had dropped to 55%. The drop was most pronounced between the ages of 11-12 (68%) and 13-15 (55%), particularly so for girls for whom there was a 21 percentage point drop in participation levels between these age groups (from 66% to 45%).
- Children's participation in sports and exercise increased between 1998 and 2009 (from 69% to 73%) before declining gradually to 66% in 2012.
- In 2012, 62% of adults (aged 16 and over) were active at the recommended level (150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week).
- There has been no change in the proportion of adults meeting the moderate/vigorous physical activity (MVPA) guideline since 2008.
- Men were more likely than women to meet the MVPA guideline (67% versus 58%).
- The proportion of men who were active at the recommended level declined fairly steadily from 83% at age 16-24 to 56% for those aged 65-74, and then to 31%, at age 75 and over. For women, 64%-68% of those aged 16-54 were active at the recommended level. Adherence dropped to 52%-53% at age 55-74 and then halved to 21% among those aged 75 and over.
- In 2012, just over a quarter (27%) of adults (aged 16 and above) met the new guideline to do activities that strengthen the muscles on at least two days a week (30% of men and 23% of women).
- Adherence to the muscle-strengthening guideline declined steadily with age, from 48% at age 16-24 to just 5% of those aged 75 and over.
- In 2012, just over half (55%) of adults had participated in sport in the previous month (60% of men and 50% of women). There was a fairly linear decline in sports participation with age, from 81% of men and 77% of women aged 16-24, to 30% of men and 19% of women aged 75 and over.
- The four most popular sporting activities in 2012 were working out at a gym (15%), swimming (14%), exercises (13%) and running (12%).
- Sports participation tended to peak at age 16-34 and decline thereafter. This was particularly the case with the more vigorous activities such as football/rugby and running. Golf, hill-walking and bowls participation levels remained broadly steady - or increased - as age increased.
- In 2012, adults (aged 16 and above) reported sitting in their leisure time for a mean of 5.5 hours on weekdays and 6.0 hours on weekend days.
- Reported sedentary leisure time was broadly similar for men and women (5.5 and 5.4 weekday mean hours, respectively, and 6.1 and 5.9 weekend day mean hours).
- Sedentary activity levels varied by age, with those aged 25 to 54 tending to spend the least time sitting both on weekdays and weekend days (mean hours ranging from 4.6 to 4.9 on weekdays and 5.5 to 5.7 hours on weekend days). Older people (aged 65 and over) were the most sedentary on both weekdays (6.5 to 7.5 hours) and weekend days (6.7 to 7.6 hours).
The health benefits of a physically active lifestyle are well documented and there is abundant evidence that regular activity is related to a reduced incidence of chronic conditions of particular concern in Scotland, such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. There is also evidence that increased activity can improve mental wellbeing, another key health priority in Scotland. The Royal College of Psychiatrists recommends exercise as a treatment for depression in adults, and the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) national clinical guideline for non-pharmaceutical management of depression states that structured exercise programmes may be an option for depressed people. Physical activity is also associated with better health and cognitive function among older people, and can reduce the risk of falls in those with mobility problems.
For children, evidence suggests that high activity levels in childhood confer both immediate and longer-term benefits, for example by promoting cognitive skills and bone strength, reducing the incidence of metabolic risk factors such as obesity and hypertension, and setting in place activity habits that endure into adulthood.
In 2008, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated that 3.2 million deaths per year could be attributed to low physical activity levels. In Scotland, it is estimated that low activity contributes to around 2,500 deaths per year and costs the NHS £94 million annually.
Each year, in addition to providing the most up-to-date data on physical activity levels in Scotland, the Scottish Health Survey (SHeS) annual report also provides a brief overview of recent policy developments in this area. Recent actions and initiatives by the Scottish Government and NHS Scotland to promote physical activity as part of a healthy lifestyle have included:
- The 2003 Physical Activity Taskforce publication Let's Make Scotland More Active: A strategy for physical activity, and its five year review, conducted in 2008.
- The Scottish Government's 2008 action plan Healthy Eating, Active Living: An action plan to improve diet, increase physical activity and tackle obesity (2008-2011).
- The Scottish Government's Route Map for tackling obesity and associated Obesity Route Map Action Plan, published in 2011. SHeS data is used to monitor the proportion of adults and children who meet the physical activity guidelines. Questions on time spent in front of a screen are used to monitor progress towards the intermediate-term goal to increase energy expenditure.
- The opportunities presented by the 2012 Olympics and 2014 Commonwealth Games to help accelerate progress towards making Scotland more active.
- The revised National Performance Framework (NPF) national indicator to increase physical activity levels among adults is also monitored using SHeS data.
- The Curriculum for Excellence, adopted in schools from August 2010, which sets out a framework for children and young people (aged 3-18) to experience, on a regular basis, a wide range of purposeful, challenging, progressive and enjoyable physical activities in addition to the required 2 hours of PE.
- The Active Schools programme which is designed to encourage young people to be involved in physical activity and sporting opportunities outwith PE lessons.
The role that sport can have in increasing a population's activity levels is currently of particular interest because of the major sporting events happening in Scotland and the rest of the UK in the 2012 to 2014 period. The legacy planning for the 2014 Commonwealth Games includes planned improvements to Scotland's sporting facilities infrastructure as well as the hope that the event will inspire people to be more active. Numerous initiatives, to take place both before and after the Games, are included in the Legacy plan. For example, since 2010, EventScotland has been running a programme giving people the opportunity to try various Commonwealth Games sports, attracting 20,000 participants in its first two years. Infrastructure investments include £150 million per year to develop 152 community sports hubs, due to be open by 2016, almost half of which will be based in schools. A further £10 million has been allocated, via the Legacy 2014 Active Places Fund, for upgrading or building new facilities for sport and other physical activities. In advance of these major sporting events, the Scottish Government has been monitoring sporting participation in both the Scottish Household Survey and SHeS. Questions in the Scottish Household Survey focus specifically on sports whereas SHeS also collects data on a number of other physical activities.
Allied to the above initiatives, SHeS data is also used to monitor the following adult physical activity target (set out in Let's Make Scotland More Active):
50% of adults should be meeting the current recommended levels of physical activity by the year 2022
The recommended level of activity for adults, when the 2022 target and the NPF national indicator were set, was that they should do at least 30 minutes of moderate activity on most days of the week (i.e. on at least five), which could be accrued in bouts of at least 10 minutes' duration. In July 2011, drawing on recent evidence about activity and health, the Chief Medical Officers of each of the four UK countries agreed and introduced revised guidelines on physical activity.101 The revisions followed new guidance issued by the WHO100 and are in line with similar changes recently made to advice on activity levels in both the USA and Canada.
The new guidance, tailored to specific age groups over the life course, are as follows:
- Early years (under 5 years)
- Physical activity should be encouraged from birth, particularly through floor-based play and water-based activities in safe environments.
- Children of pre-school age who are capable of walking unaided should be physically active daily for at least 180 minutes (3 hours), spread throughout the day.
- All under 5s should minimise the amount of time spent being sedentary (being restrained or sitting) for extended periods (except time spent sleeping).
- Children and young people aged 5 to 18
- Should engage in moderate to vigorous activity for at least 60 minutes and up to several hours every day.
- Vigorous activities, including those that strengthen muscles and bones, should be carried out on at least 3 days a week.
- Extended periods of sedentary activities should be limited.
- Adults aged 19 to 64
- Should be active daily.
- Should engage in at least moderate activity for a minimum of 150 minutes a week (accumulated in bouts of at least 10 minutes) - for example by being active for 30 minutes on five days a week.
- Alternatively, 75 minutes of vigorous activity spread across the week will confer similar benefits to 150 minutes of moderate activity (or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity).
- Activities that strengthen muscles should be carried out on at least two days a week.
- Extended periods of sedentary activities should be limited.
- Adults aged 65 and over
- In addition to the guidance set out above for adults aged 19-64, older adults are advised that any amount of physical activity is better than none, and more activity provides greater health benefits.
- Older adults at risk of falls should incorporate activities to improve balance and coordination on at least two days a week.
Monitoring adherence to the revised guidelines required several changes to be made to the SHeS questions physical activity in 2012. Details of the exact amendments made to the module are outlined and discussed in the methods section of this chapter (Section 6.2). Adult and child adherence to the new guidelines on moderate/ vigorous physical activity (MVPA) in 2012 are highlighted and discussed in this chapter. Adult participation in muscle strengthening activities is also presented, as are the new data on the time adults spent being sedentary. Participation in different sporting activities is presented for both adults and children and trend data, for the latter, are also included.
Guideline and questionnaire changes make the presentation of trend data on physical activity somewhat problematic. In this chapter, the 2008 to 2012 physical activity data have been analysed and presented in two ways. The first involved reanalysing 2008 to 2011 data to provide estimates of adherence to the new guidelines on moderate/vigorous activities during that period. The second approach was to calculate adherence, in 2012, to the old session-based guidelines to aide comparison with results in previous years.
In future reports this chapter will include more detailed information about children's activity levels and sedentary time as well as more detailed results on older adults' activities.
6.2.1 Adult physical activity questionnaire
Since 1998, the adult physical activity questions included in the survey have been based on the Allied Dunbar National Fitness Survey, a major study of physical activity among the adult population in England conducted in 1990. The module examined:
- The time spent being active
- The intensity of the activities undertaken, and
- The frequency with which activities are performed.
Types of activity covered
Four main types of physical activity were asked about:
- Home-based activities (housework, gardening, building work and DIY)
- Sports and exercise, and
- Activity at work.
For the first three categories, participants were asked to report any activities that lasted at least 10 minutes and the number of days in the past four weeks in which they had taken part in such activities. For walking, participants were also asked on how many days they had taken more than one walk of at least 10 minutes. Where a participant had taken more than one walk, the total time spent walking for that day was calculated as twice the average reported walk time.
In addition, those in full or part-time employment were asked about activity while at work. These participants were asked to rate how physically active they were in their job (options were: very physically active, fairly physically active, not very physically active and not at all physically active). This question on intensity was used in combination with a new question on sedentary activity at work to produce estimates of the duration of moderate activity at work per week. As this information was not collected prior to 2012, data from this method of calculating work-based activity is not directly comparable with that from the method used in earlier years. The impact of this change was minor.
The revised activity guidelines advise people to accumulate 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week. The intensity level of activities mentioned by participants was estimated to help assess adherence to this guideline,. The four categories of physical activity 'intensity' were:
- Light, and
Most of the discussion of adult physical activity in this chapter focuses on moderate and vigorous intensity activities, and light activity has been discounted here.
Classifying intensity for different activity types
Home-based activities were classified as either 'moderate' or 'light' depending on their nature. Participants were given examples of types of housework, gardening, building work and DIY which were described as either 'heavy' or 'light.' All cases of 'heavy' home-based activity were classified as being of 'moderate' physical intensity. Light gardening, building work and DIY were all classified as 'light' physical intensity. Due to its very low intensity, light housework was not included in the calculations of physical activity in this report.
For walking, participants were asked to assess their usual walking pace as 'slow', 'steady average', 'fairly brisk' or 'fast - at least 4mph.' For adults aged 16-64, walks of 10 minutes or more at a brisk or fast pace were classified as being of 'moderate' intensity. Walks at a slow or steady average pace were classified as 'light.' For adults aged 65 and over, walks of 10 minutes or more at a pace described as 'slow' or 'steady average' were also classified as being of 'moderate' intensity if participants said that walking at that pace had resulted in them breathing faster, sweating or feeling warmer.
The intensity levels of different sports and exercises was determined by a combination of (a) the MET level of the activity and (b) the participant's assessment of the amount of effort it involved. For example, all instances of playing squash, football or rugby were counted as 'vigorous' intensity. Other activities, however, like swimming or cycling, were only counted as 'vigorous' if the participant reported that the effort involved was enough to make them 'out of breath or sweaty;' if not, they were classified as 'moderate' intensity. Similarly, other activities, like yoga/pilates, counted as 'moderate' if they made the participant out of breath or sweaty, but 'light' if not.
People who reported being 'very physically active' at work were classified as moderately active and an estimate of the time spent being active per week was derived from the answer to the question about how much they spent sitting on a typical day at work, and their full or part-time working status. All other responses were counted as light or inactive. No one was classified as vigorously active at work. This approach represents a departure from previous years when activities at work were classified using a combination of (a) the participant's assessment of how active they are in their job (described above), and (b) the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code assigned to their job type.
The questions on child physical activity included in SHeS since 1998 were based on the 1997 Health Survey for England (HSE) children's physical activity module. These questions cover:
- Sports and exercise
- Active play
- Walking, and
- Housework or gardening (children aged 8 and over only)
Information on sport and exercise, active play and walking undertaken as part of school lessons was not collected on the survey prior to 2008. Details of activities undertaken on school premises but not as part of lessons (for example, play or sport at lunchtime or at after-school clubs) were, however, collected. In 2008, an additional set of questions, specifically asking about 'walking, sports, exercise or other active things' undertaken as part of school lessons, were added to the survey.
6.2.4 Child physical activity definitions
Types of activity covered
Details on the information collected in relation to each of the activity types are as follows:
Information on walks of at least 5 minutes duration was collected. Participants were asked on how many days in the last week they (or their parent/guardian if the child was under the age of 13) had done walks of at least this length (5 minutes), and how long in total they spent walking on each of those days. Children aged 13-15 were also asked about their usual walking pace using the same options as in the adult questionnaire (see Section 6.2.2 for a description of these).
Housework or gardening (aged 8-15 only)
Children aged 8 and over, were asked about any 'housework or gardening that involved pulling or pushing, like hoovering, cleaning a car, mowing grass or sweeping up leaves.' Only housework or gardening lasting at least 15 minutes was included. Information on the number of days in the last week they had done such activities, and how long they spent doing this on each day was also collected.
Sports and exercise
This category was intended to cover structured or organised sporting activities, and included things like swimming, football, gymnastics and dance lessons. The interview recorded whether the child had participated in any sport and exercise in the last week, on how many week and weekend days they had participated and the total time spent on sport and exercise at the weekend, and the total time on each weekday. There was no lower time limit for inclusion.
This category covered less structured activities, like riding a bike, kicking a ball around, running about, playing active games or jumping around. Children were asked whether they had taken part in this kind of 'active play' in the last week, and how many week and weekend days they had done so. The total time spent on active play at the weekend, and each weekday was also collected.
Since 2008, children at school have also been asked about any active things they have done as part of lessons. The number of days they did these kinds of activities in lessons in the last week was collected along with information on how long they spent doing them.
Intensity of activities
Since assessing the intensity of children's activities is more complicated than for adults, no information on intensity was collected for children (with the exception of asking those aged 13-15 about their walking pace). For the purposes of calculating physical activity levels, it is assumed that all reported activities were of at least moderate intensity.
Data on all of the different activities described above have also been summarised to provide an overall measure of child physical activity. This summary measure takes into account both, the average time spent participating in physical activity, and the number of active days in the last week. A child's level of physical activity was assigned to one of three categories:
- Meets guidelines - active for 60 minutes on 7 days in the last week (meeting the recommended level of activity for children and young people)
- Some activity - active for 30 to 59 minutes on 7 days in the last week
- Low activity - active on fewer than 7 days in the last week or for less than 30 minutes a day.
Sports (adult module)
In 2012, the list of sports asked about was increased from around a dozen to over 40 different activities. Although participants were able to mention sports not included on the provided list in the previous version of the questionnaire, presenting people with an extended list of options potentially acts as a prompt, facilitating people to remember and mention sports they might not previously have mentioned. For this reason, the information on sports participation collected from 2012 onwards is not directly comparable with the 2008-2011 measures, in either the Scottish Household Survey or SHeS, though the impact on the latter is likely to have been relatively small.
Muscle strengthening activities (adult module)
Expert advice was used to classify the muscle strengthening potential of sporting activities. Nine sports or activities were defined as definitely muscle strengthening and a further 24 as potentially so. Participants who had done any of the potentially muscle strengthening sports were asked a new follow-up question to help establish whether it was sufficiently strenuous to have built their muscles:
During the past four weeks, was the effort of [name of activity] usually enough to make your muscles feel some tension, shake or feel warm?
Balance improving activities for those aged 65 and over (adult module)
Expert advice was also used to classify whether particular sports or activities were balance improving for older people. Thirty-two were classified as definitely balance improving. For one activity (exercises e.g. press-ups, sit-ups) further clarification was needed. The follow-up question used to determine if exercises were balance improving was:
Did these exercises involve you standing up and moving about?
Walking exertion for those aged 65 and over (adult module)
In response to concerns that the method for grading the intensity of walking (see section 6.2.2) was underestimating older adults' exertion levels, the following question was added for participants aged 65 and over:
During the past four weeks, was the effort of walking for 10 minutes or more usually enough to make you breathe faster, feel warmer or sweat?
Sedentary activity (adult and child modules)
Since 2003, all participants aged 2 and over have been asked about time spent in front of a screen (e.g. a TV or computer) during leisure time on both weekdays and weekend days. For everyone aged 2 and over, new questions about time spent sitting during leisure time (apart from in front of a screen) were added in 2012. The examples of time spent sitting that participants were given included eating, reading, studying and (for children) doing homework. For adults in paid work, new questions on time spent sitting during the working day were also added in 2012.
6.3 Child Physical Activity Levels
6.3.1 Trends in summary physical activity levels for children since 1998
The proportion of children meeting the guideline on activity, 60 minutes of activity on every day of the week, is shown in Table 6.1. Separate estimates including and excluding school-based activity are presented.
As the trends for both measures (including and excluding school-based activity) were similar, the discussion here focuses on the more recent estimates which include school-based activities. In 2012, 70% of children aged 2-15 were active at the recommended level. In recent years the figure has fluctuated with no real change since 2008 and 2009 (71% in both years and 73% in 2011). The small decline (from 73% to 70%) observed between 2011 and 2012 was not statistically significant.
The proportion of boys active at the recommended level was generally stable between 2008 (77%) and 2011 (76%), but was lower (73%) in 2012. Although not a statistically significant change, any further declines in this might suggest a decreasing trend. In contrast, while girls' activity levels were consistently lower than boys', the proportion meeting the guidelines increased, from 64% in 2008 to 70% in 2010 and 2011, and then declined (but not significantly) to 68% in 2012. As a result, there has been a narrowing of the gap between boys' and girls' activity levels, from 13 percentage points in 2008 to 5 points in 2012. Table 6.1
6.3.2 Trends in sports and exercise participation among children since 1998
As outlined in Section 6.2.5, children's overall participation in sport and exercise was recorded by providing examples of activities to choose from as opposed to asking about specific sports. The trend, since 1998, in children's (aged 2-15) sporting participation is presented in Table 6.2 and Figure 6A (Note that the scale in Figure 6A has been truncated so differences over time appear magnified).
Participation in sports and exercise increased between 1998 and 2009 (from 69% to 73%) before declining gradually to 66% in 2012. The drop in participation levels since 2009 was statistically significant. The trend for girls tended to follow that observed for all children (increased from 65% to 70% between 1998 and 2009 then gradually declined back to 65% in 2012). Participation levels also increased for boys between 1998 and 2009 before beginning to decline. The drop in boys' participation between 2011 and 2012 was more pronounced than for girls' (5 percentage points drop versus 2 percentage points for girls). The decline was not, however, statistically significant and future years' data will be needed to determine if boys' and girls' participation in sport and exercise are following different trajectories. Figure 6A, Table 6.2
6.3.3 Physical activity levels in children, 2012, by age and sex
The proportion of children active at the recommended level (both including and excluding school-based activities) in 2012 is presented by age and sex in Table 6.3. As would be expected, estimates for each of the measures were very similar for children under the age of 5. From age 5 upwards, the proportion meeting the guideline was higher when school-based activities were accounted for.
In 2012, 73% of boys and 68% of girls were active at the recommended level (when school-based activity is accounted for); this difference between the genders was statistically significant. As noted in previous reports, activity levels tend to decline with increasing age. For example, 80% of children aged 5-7 met the physical activity guideline, by age 13-15 this had dropped to 55%. The drop was most pronounced between the ages of 11-12 (68%) and 13-15 (55%), particularly so for girls for whom there was a 21 percentage point drop in participation levels between these age groups (from 66% to 45%).
Figures 6B and 6C illustrate the contribution of school activities to boys and girls' total activity levels. Figure 6B shows that, for boys, the impact of including school-based activities in the total activity measure is similar across all age groups (from 5-7 upwards). The pattern for girls, shown in Figure 6C, is different: while activity levels decline with age using either measure (including/excluding school-based activity), the drop at age 11-12 is steeper on the measure that excludes school activities. This illustrates the importance of school-based activity for girls' overall activity levels, but also suggests that school activities do not compensate fully for the sharp decline in the time older girls spend being physically active outside school. Figure 6B, Figure 6C, Table 6.3
6.4 Adult Physical Activity Levels
Adults aged 16 and over
Adults' weekly activity levels by age and sex are presented in Table 6.4. Adherence to the revised MVPA guideline (moderate activity for at least 150 minutes, or vigorous activity for 75 minutes, or a combination of both, per week) is also presented. The proportion of men, women and all adults meeting this guideline in 2012 is shown, along with three further groups corresponding to the following activity levels:
- Some activity - 60-<150 mins moderate / 30-<75 mins vigorous
- Low activity - 30-<60 mins moderate / 15-<37.5 mins vigorous
- Very low activity - under 30 mins moderate / under 15 mins vigorous
In 2012, 62% of adults (aged 16 and over) were active at the now recommended level, whereas 21% had very low activity levels. Men were more likely than women to meet the guideline (67% versus 58%). In contrast, the proportions of men and women with very low activity levels were much more closely aligned (19% and 23%, respectively).
As Figures 6D and 6E illustrate, adherence to the revised guideline differed markedly by age for both sexes. The proportion of men who were active at the recommended level declined fairly steadily from 83% at age 16-24 to 56% for those aged 65-74, and then dropped more sharply, to 31%, at age 75 and over. For women, adherence within the 16-54 age group was more stable with 64%-68% active at the recommended level. Adherence dropped to 52%-53% at age 55-74 and then halved to 21% among those aged 75 and over.
This decline, by age, tended to be coupled with corresponding increases in the proportions with very low activity levels. For example, between the ages 65-74 and 75 and over, the proportion of adults meeting the guidelines fell by 29 percentage points (from 54% to 25%). For these same age groups, the proportion with very low activity levels increased by the same amount (from 29% to 58%). These patterns were true for both men and women. Figure 6D, Figure 6E, Table 6.4
Adults aged 19 and over
As discussed in Section 6.1, the new guidelines relate to different groups across the lifecourse with adults defined as those aged 19 and over. The UK's four population health surveys, however, have always defined those aged 16 and over as adults, hence the focus in this report on children aged 0-15 and adults aged 16 and over. The following inset table presents the proportion of adults aged 19 and over who met the new guideline on intensity/duration. Since the proportion of the overall sample aged 16-18 was quite small, the overall impact on the estimates is very minimal.
Table A: Proportion of adults aged 19 and over meeting the new CMO MVPA guidelines
|All 19 and over|
6.4.2 Adherence to the muscle strengthening and MVPA guidelines, 2012, by age and sex
As discussed in the introduction, the new guidelines do not just focus on the intensity and duration of activity; adults are also advised to carry out activities that strengthen muscles on at least two days per week. In 2012, just over a quarter (27%) of adults (aged 16 and above) met the new guideline on muscle strengthening (30% of men and 23% of women) (Table 6.5). Adherence to this guideline declined steadily with age, from 48% at age 16-24 to just 5% of those aged 75 and over.
From Table 6.5 it is also possible to identify those following both the muscle strengthening and the MVPA guidelines, those who followed just one of them, and those following neither. Most adults who met the muscle strengthening guideline also met the MVPA guideline (26% of all adults met both while 1% met only the muscle guideline). A further 37% met the MVPA guideline, but did not incorporate sufficient muscle strengthening activity to meet that guideline. Another 37% of adults failed to meet either guideline.
Looking at those who met both guidelines, the patterns by age and sex were broadly similar to those seen for adherence to the MVPA guideline alone (See Section 6.4.1). Among all adults, as age increased there was a sharp decline in proportions meeting both guidelines (from 47% at age 16-24 to 4% at age 75 and over). Among those aged 16-44, it was more common for people to meet both the guidelines than to meet neither (for example, 35% of those aged 25-34 met both guidelines while 29% met neither). In contrast, from the age of 45-54 onwards, the proportion meeting neither guideline outweighed the proportion meeting both. For those aged 75 and over, the gap between those who met both guidelines and those who met neither was very pronounced: 4% met both while 75% met neither.
Men were more likely than women to meet both guidelines at almost all ages, with the gap between genders largest in the 16-34 age group. For example, 59% of men aged 16-24 met both guidelines compared with 35% of women. It is also notable that the difference between the proportions of men and women aged 16-24 meeting both guidelines (59% and 35%) was much larger than the equivalent difference found for just meeting the MVPA guideline (see Table 6.4). This is explained by the fact that 72% of young men who met the MVPA guideline also did muscle strengthening activities at least twice a week, compared with 48% of young women (data not shown). Table 6.5
Among those aged 19 and over, adherence to the new guideline on muscle strengthening was very similar to that discussed above for the population aged 16 and over. In 2012, a quarter (26%) of those aged 19 and over carried out activities to strengthen the muscles on at least two days per week (29% of men and 22% of women) (data not shown).
6.4.3 Trends in summary physical activity levels since 2008
As noted in the introduction, the publication of the revised guidelines in 2011, and the subsequent changes made to the questionnaire to measure these, make the reporting of trends in activity levels somewhat difficult. Three sets of figures are presented in Table 6.6:
- Proportion meeting the new guideline on intensity/duration (MVPA), 2012: uses new sports questions and intensity definitions introduced in 2012, and the new definitions of walking and time spent being very active at work (described in section 6.2.3 and also shown in Table 6.4);
- Proportion meeting the new guideline on intensity/duration, 2008 to 2012: using the 10 sporting activities that were common to all surveys, the old walking definition, and a fixed estimate of time spent being very active at work;
- Proportion meeting the old session-based guideline on intensity/duration, 2008 to 2012: using the 10 sporting activities that were common to all surveys, the old walking definition, and a fixed estimate of the number of days on which at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity work activity was carried out.
From 2012 onwards, time-series trends will be based on the first of these estimates. The two other sets of figures are presented here to help assess the impact of both the changes to the guidelines and to the questionnaire. Neither set of time series estimates shows any change, over time, in the proportions of all adults, men or women, meeting the guideline. Table 6.6
6.4.4 Impact of changes to the physical activity guidelines and to the questionnaire
The most important point to note in Table 6.6 is the much higher proportion meeting the new guideline (62%) compared with the previous, session-based guideline (38%). One possible explanation of this difference is that it is the result of changes made to the questionnaire in 2012. As discussed above (Section 6.2.5), changes included an increase in the range of sporting activities asked about, the inclusion of slower paced walks for adults aged 65 and over (providing they resulted in some exertion), and an improvement to the estimate on time spent being very active at work.
The time series estimate that measures the new guideline using the definitions/measures in place prior to the 2012 questionnaire changes (58%) is, however, clearly much closer to the new estimate (62%) than to the old one (38%). This suggests that the main drivers behind the increased proportion meeting the guideline were the removal of the stipulation that activity must be carried out on at least five days per week and the new distinction between moderate and vigorous activity. These findings are in line with results from the 2012 Health Survey for England, which has undergone similar changes, and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in the USA. Table 6.6
Figures 6F and 6G help identify whether the changes to the guidelines have impacted equally on the likelihood of all groups in the population meeting the new guideline. The proportions in each age group that met both the old and new guidelines, and the new ones only are presented separately for men and women. There was only one group, men aged 16-24, for whom a clear majority (over 6 in 10) met the previous guideline. Among the remaining age groups, between a quarter and a half of men and women up to the age of 65-74 met the previous guideline, so it was only the change in guideline that resulted in clear majorities in each group being active at the recommended level .Men and women aged 65 and over were more likely to meet the new guideline only than they were to meet both. Figure 6F, Figure 6G
Unlike other changes made to the questionnaire, the impact of the change to the walking definition in 2012 can be clearly illustrated as both the new and old definitions can be easily applied to the 2012 data. The proportion meeting the new MVPA guideline, when the new definition of walks for older adults is included, is presented, as is the equivalent figure when it is excluded. While the overall impact on the estimate for all adults was minimal (a difference of just 1 percentage point), there was, as might be expected, a more pronounced impact among older age groups. The proportion of those aged 65-74 meeting the guideline was seven percentage points higher when slower paced walks resulting in exertion were included. Among the oldest age group (aged 75 and over), the equivalent impact was a four percentage point increase in the proportion meeting the guideline.
Table B: Proportion of adults meeting the revised MVPA guidelines, including and excluding slower paced walks for those aged 65 and over*
|65-74||75 and over||All 16 and over|
|Old walking definition||47||21||61|
|New walking definition||54||25||62|
*Old definition: only brisk/fast paced walks count towards meeting the guidelines
New definition: if 65 and over, slow/steady walks also count if the effort resulted in faster breathing/feeling warm (i.e. caused exertion).
6.5 Adult Participation in Sport, 2012, By Age and Sex
The proportion of adults (aged 16 and over) participating in sport in the previous month, is presented by age and sex in Table 6.7. Data are presented for sports that were mentioned by at least 0.5% of the population. In 2012, just over half (55%) of adults had participated in sport in the previous month (60% of men and 50% of women). There was a fairly linear decline in sports participation with age, from 81% of men and 77% of women aged 16-24, to 30% of men and 19% of women aged 75 and over.
Of the 28 different types of sport reported in Table 6.7, only four were carried out by more than a tenth of the population, while twelve were reported by just 1%. This illustrates the wide diversity of sporting activities that adults in Scotland do. The four most popular sporting activities included for all adults included ones that require physical infrastructure, such as working out at a gym (15%), and swimming (14%), as well as activities that can be pursued at home or outdoors, such as exercises (13%) and running (12%).
Men and women tended to differ in the kinds of activities they pursued, although there were some exceptions, such as swimming, hill-walking, racquet sports, and lawn bowls, which had similar levels of participation among both sexes. Men were more likely than women to have participated in running (15% versus 8%), cycling (13% versus 6%), football/rugby (12% versus 1%) and golf (11% versus 1%). Women were more likely than men to have been to an aerobics/keep fit/dance class in the past month (14% versus 3%). Gender differences were also evident between specific age groups, even when overall participation rates were very similar for men and women. For example, 2% of men and 1% of women had participated in martial arts/Tai Chi, but this was reported by 8% of men aged 16-24 and just 1% of the youngest women.
The most common age-related pattern was for sports participation to peak at age 16-34 and decline thereafter. This was particularly the case with the more vigorous activities such as football/rugby and running, but was also true of exercises and snooker/billiards/pool, reflecting the way in which activities change as both lifestyle and fitness levels change with age. Golf, hill-walking and bowls were notable exceptions to these general patterns, with participation levels remaining broadly steady - or increasing - as age increased. The rarity of sporting participation among the oldest age groups can be illustrated by the fact that just one of the types of activity (bowls) was reported by at least 5% of adults aged 75 and over, six activities met this threshold among those aged 65-74, as did 12 in the 16-24 age group.
6.6 Adult Sedentary Activity, 2012, By Age And Sex
The revised guidelines on activity levels advise adults to limit extended periods of sedentary time. Mean and median weekday and weekend sedentary leisure time (in hours) for adults are discussed. In addition, a summary measure (of time in quartiles) is also presented and discussed to help identify the least and most sedentary groups in the population. These summary estimates combine the time people reported spending in front of a screen with the time spent sitting doing other things, such as reading. Sedentary time at work is not included in the summary estimates.
As Table 6.8 illustrates, in 2012, adults (aged 16 and above) reported sitting in their leisure time for a mean of 5.5 hours on weekdays and 6.0 hours on weekend days. Reported sedentary leisure time was broadly similar for men and women (5.5 and 5.4 weekday mean hours, respectively, and 6.1 and 5.9 weekend day mean hours). Sedentary activity levels did vary by age, with those aged 25 to 54 tending to spend the least time sitting both on weekdays and weekend days (mean hours ranging from 4.6 to 4.9 on weekdays and 5.5 to 5.7 hours on weekend days). Older people (aged 65 and over) were the most sedentary on both weekdays (6.5 to 7.5 hours) and weekend days (6.7 to 7.6 hours).
Figure 6H illustrates the weekday patterns, by age and sex, in terms both of mean hours of sedentary activity and in the proportion in the most sedentary quartile. Figure 6I does the same for weekend days. For both sexes, the association between age group and mean hours of sedentary activity on weekdays followed a J-shaped curve, with an initial decline (from 5.6 hours in the 16-24 age group to 4.6 hours at age 35-44) and then an increase to its highest levels among those aged 65 and over (6.5 to 7.5 hours). Figure 6I demonstrates that while the pattern for weekend days was broadly similar, the curve is much flatter than that observed for weekdays.
Proportions in the most sedentary quartile (for weekdays and weekend days) followed a similar pattern by age and sex but with more pronounced gender differences, particularly among the youngest age groups on weekdays, and the 35-44 age group on weekends. Across all age groups, men reported higher activity levels than women, however, for many age groups, men were more likely than women to be in the most sedentary quartile, and therefore to sit for extended periods of time. Figure 6H, Figure 6I, Table 6.8
|Aged 2 - 15||1998 to 2012|
|Proportion meeting recommendationsa||1998||2003||2008||2009||2010||2011||2012|
|Excluding activity at school||72||74||72||69||68||69||66|
|Including activity at school||n/a||n/a||77||75||75||76||73|
|Excluding activity at school||59||63||56||58||62||62||58|
|Including activity at school||n/a||n/a||64||66||70||70||68|
|Excluding activity at school||65||69||64||64||65||65||62|
|Including activity at school||n/a||n/a||71||71||72||73||70|
|a At least 60 minutes of activity on all 7 days in previous week|
|Aged 2 - 15||1998 to 2012|
|Participation in any sport during last week||1998||2003||2008||2009||2010||2011||2012|
|Aged 2 - 15||2012|
|Proportion meeting recommendationsa||Age||Total|
|2-4||5-7||8-10||11-12||13 - 15|
|Excluding activity at school||72||74||63||63||56||66|
|Including activity at school||73||83||72||72||65||73|
|Excluding activity at school||73||68||63||48||32||58|
|Including activity at school||74||77||76||66||45||68|
|Excluding activity at school||72||71||63||55||45||62|
|Including activity at school||74||80||74||68||55||70|
|a At least 60 minutes of activity on all 7 days in previous week|
|Aged 16 and over||2012|
|Summary activity levelsa||Age||Total|
|Meets MVPA guidelines||83||74||75||69||61||56||31||67|
|Very low activity||7||9||13||19||26||28||55||19|
|Meets MVPA guidelines||68||65||67||64||53||52||21||58|
|Very low activity||10||15||13||21||25||30||60||23|
|Meets MVPA guidelines||75||70||71||66||57||54||25||62|
|Very low activity||9||12||13||20||25||29||58||21|
|a Meets moderate/vigorous physical activity (MVPA) guidelines = 150 mins moderate / 75 mins vigorous / combination of both per week; some activity = 60-<150 mins moderate / 30-<75 mins vigorous; low activity = 30-<60 mins moderate / 15-<37.5 mins vigorous; very low activity = under 30 mins moderate / under 15 mins vigorous|
|Aged 16 and over||2012|
|Proportion meeting guidelinesa||Age||Total|
|Meets MVPA & muscle guidelines||59||42||30||27||16||12||6||30|
|Meets MVPA guidelines only||23||32||46||42||45||44||25||38|
|Meets muscle guideline only||0||2||1||0||0||0||1||1|
|Meets neither guideline||17||24||24||31||38||44||68||32|
|Total meeting muscle guideline||60||44||31||27||17||12||7||30|
|Meets MVPA & muscle guidelines||35||27||34||23||15||8||3||22|
|Meets MVPA guidelines only||33||38||34||41||38||45||18||36|
|Meets muscle guideline only||1||2||1||0||1||1||-||1|
|Meets neither guideline||31||33||31||36||46||46||79||41|
|Total meeting muscle guideline||36||29||35||24||16||9||3||23|
|Meets MVPA & muscle guidelines||47||35||32||25||16||9||4||26|
|Meets MVPA guidelines only||28||35||39||41||42||45||21||37|
|Meets muscle guideline only||1||2||1||0||1||1||0||1|
|Meets neither guideline||24||29||28||33||42||45||75||37|
|Total meeting muscle guideline||48||37||33||25||16||10||5||27|
|a Meets moderate/vigorous physical activity (MVPA) guidelines = 150 mins moderate / 75 mins vigorous / combination of both per week; meets muscle guideline = carries out activities that strengthen muscles on at least two days per week|
|Aged 16 and over||2008 to 2012|
|Adherence to guidelines||2008||2009||2010||2011||2012|
|Meets new MVPA guidelines (best estimate)a||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a||67|
|Meets new MVPA guidelines (time series version)b||62||62||62||62||63|
|Meets old guidelinesc||45||43||45||45||44|
|Meets new MVPA guidelines (best estimate)a||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a||58|
|Meets new MVPA guidelines (time series version)b||55||55||54||54||53|
|Meets old guidelinesc||33||32||33||33||33|
|Meets new MVPA guidelines (best estimate)a||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a||62|
|Meets new MVPA guidelines (time series version)b||58||58||58||58||58|
|Meets old guidelinesc||39||37||39||39||38|
|a 150 mins moderate / 75 mins vigorous / combination of both per week, using 2012 defintions of walking pace, sports and time spent very active at work|
|b 150 mins moderate / 75 mins vigorous / combination of both per week, using 2008-11 defintions of walking pace, sports and time spent very active at work|
|c 30 minutes or more of at least moderate activity on at least 5 days per week, using 2008-11 defintions of walking pace and time spent very active at work|
|See the chapter text for full details of the new and old definitions of walking pace, sports and time spent very active at work|
|Aged 16 and over who took part in any sport/exercise||2012|
|Participation in activity during last four weeks||Age||Total|
|Workout at a gym/Exercise bike/Weight training||39||28||15||15||9||9||5||19|
|Exercises (e.g. press ups, sit ups)||40||24||13||11||6||3||4||16|
|Aerobics/Keep Fit/Gymnatics/Dance for fitness||7||3||3||2||3||1||1||3|
|Dancing (other than for fitness)||3||3||2||1||2||3||2||2|
|Martial arts including Tai Chi||8||2||3||1||-||0||-||2|
|Aqua-robics/aquafit/exercise class in water||1||0||0||0||1||-||-||0|
|Any other sport or exercisea||10||6||4||6||2||3||2||5|
|Any sport or exercise||81||69||63||60||49||46||30||60|
|No sport or exercise||19||31||37||40||51||54||70||40|
|Workout at a gym/Exercise bike/Weight training||23||15||19||13||9||5||1||13|
|Exercises (e.g. press ups, sit ups)||23||17||13||12||5||4||3||11|
|Aerobics/Keep Fit/Gymnatics/Dance for fitness||19||19||22||13||10||7||6||14|
|Dancing (other than for fitness)||16||8||8||4||5||5||3||7|
|Martial arts including Tai Chi||1||-||1||1||1||2||-||1|
|Aqua-robics/aquafit/exercise class in water||0||3||2||2||3||1||1||2|
|Any other sport or exercisea||8||4||4||3||2||0||0||3|
|Any sport or exercise||77||63||61||48||40||36||19||50|
|No sport or exercise||23||37||39||52||60||64||81||50|
|Workout at a gym/Exercise bike/Weight training||31||22||17||14||9||7||3||15|
|Exercises (e.g. press ups, sit ups)||32||20||13||11||6||3||4||13|
|Aerobics/Keep Fit/Gymnatics/Dance for fitness||13||11||13||8||6||4||4||9|
|Dancing (other than for fitness)||9||5||5||3||4||4||3||5|
|Martial arts including Tai Chi||4||1||2||1||1||1||-||1|
|Aqua-robics/aquafit/exercise class in water||1||2||1||1||2||0||0||1|
|Any other sport or exercisea||9||5||4||4||2||2||1||4|
|Any sport or exercise||79||66||62||54||44||41||24||55|
|No sport or exercise||21||34||38||46||56||59||76||45|
|a Other sports or exercise include all named sports in the questionnaire, in which less than 0.5% of the adult population took part, i.e. cricket, curling, netball, powerboating, rowing, sailing, shinty, skateboarding, skiing, subaqua, surfing, volleyball and waterskiing, plus any sport or form of exercise which was not listed on the questionnaire|
|Aged 16 and over||2012|
|Sedentary leisure time in hours (TV + non-TV)||Age||Total|
|Standard error of the mean||0.25||0.21||0.16||0.16||0.15||0.16||0.25||0.08|
|% in bottom quartile (≤3.50)||25||34||42||32||23||9||9||27|
|% in second quartile (3.51-5.00)||30||30||29||34||32||28||20||30|
|% in third quartile (5.01-7.00)||22||17||18||18||25||29||25||21|
|% in top quartile (≥7.01)||23||19||11||16||20||34||46||22|
|Standard error of the mean||0.30||0.21||0.16||0.16||0.17||0.17||0.28||0.09|
|% in bottom quartile (≤4.00)||35||36||36||35||27||19||15||31|
|% in second quartile (4.01 - 5.50)||12||21||18||20||22||16||16||18|
|% in third quartile (5.51-7.00)||25||21||22||24||22||28||23||23|
|% in top quartile (≥7.01)||28||22||25||21||29||37||46||28|
|Standard error of the mean||0.19||0.14||0.15||0.13||0.15||0.16||0.20||0.07|
|% in bottom quartile (≤3.50)||22||39||43||37||22||10||6||28|
|% in second quartile (3.51-5.00)||31||32||28||33||32||29||19||30|
|% in third quartile (5.01-7.00)||32||19||16||18||25||31||31||24|
|% in top quartile (≥7.01)||15||10||13||12||21||31||45||19|
|Standard error of the mean||0.25||0.14||0.14||0.13||0.15||0.16||0.21||0.08|
|% in bottom quartile (≤4.00)||34||36||40||39||30||25||16||33|
|% in second quartile (4.01 - 5.50)||16||25||23||20||23||16||15||20|
|% in third quartile (5.51-7.00)||25||26||21||20||24||27||26||24|
|% in top quartile (≥7.01)||25||13||17||21||23||31||44||24|
|Standard error of the mean||0.15||0.14||0.11||0.10||0.11||0.12||0.17||0.06|
|% in bottom quartile (≤3.50)||23||36||43||34||23||9||7||28|
|% in second quartile (3.51-5.00)||30||31||28||34||32||28||19||30|
|% in third quartile (5.01-7.00)||27||18||17||18||25||30||28||22|
|% in top quartile (≥7.01)||19||14||12||14||21||33||45||20|
|Standard error of the mean||0.20||0.13||0.11||0.11||0.12||0.14||0.19||0.07|
|% in bottom quartile (≤4.00)||35||36||38||37||29||22||16||32|
|% in second quartile (4.01 - 5.50)||14||23||21||20||22||16||15||19|
|% in third quartile (5.51-7.00)||25||23||21||22||23||27||25||23|
|% in top quartile (≥7.01)||27||18||20||21||26||34||44||26|
|All adults weekday||655||755||793||872||741||536||426||4778|
|All adults weekend||653||758||790||867||740||534||426||4768|
|All adults weekday||392||554||818||905||801||769||538||4777|
|All adults weekend||391||556||814||901||799||766||536||4763|
Email: Julie Landsberg