Physical Activity


Physical Activity of Urban Adults:
A General Population Survey in Geneva

Martine S. Bernstein, Michael C. Costanza, Alfredo Morabia
Soz Präventivmed. 2001;46:49-59.


Objectives. Describing the distribution of physical activity in populations is of major importance for developing public health campaigns to prevent sedentarism.

Methods. A population-based survey conducted during 1997-1999 in Geneva, Switzerland, included 3,410 randomly selected men (n=1707) and women (n=1703), ages 35 to 74 years. Percentiles P10, P50, and P90 summarized the distributions of the total energy expenditure and of the percents used in moderate intensity activities (3 to 3.9 times the basal metabolism rate (BMR), e.g., normal walking, household chores), and in high and very high intensity activities (* 4 BMR, e.g., brisk walking, sports).

Results. The total energy expenditure (median 2,929 Kcal/day in men, 2,212 Kcal/day in women) decreased with age. Prevalence of sedentarism, defined as less than 10% of total energy expended in * 4 BMR activities, was 57% in men and 70% in women. Men expended 12% of their total energy in 3 to 3.9 BMR and 8% in * 4 BMR activities. Corresponding proportions in women were 11% and 5%. The highest prevalence of sedentarism was in older age, women, and lower socio-economic status persons.

Conclusion. Most of Geneva population is sedentary. Promoting physical activity should target children, adults and elderly, and physical activities which would be both attractive and financially affordable by most people.


Article in PDF-format (123 kB) available at:



Contact the webmaster