Background. Though the influence of physical activity in preventing cardiovascular diseases is well documented, only a few comparative studies have determined the degree of adherence to physical activity recommendations among populations and identified the demographic, socioeconomic, behavioural and health-related factors associated with good compliance.
Design and methods. Cross-sectional interregional NESCaV survey of 3133 subjects compared three populations, Luxembourg, Lorraine (France) and Wallonia (Belgium), by using the International Physical Activity Questionnaire. Age and gender prevalence rates of physical activity were standardized to the European population.
Results. The likelihood to meet the recommendations was higher in Luxembourg, after adjustment for age, gender, education, employment, weight status, morbidity score, health perception and level of importance attributed to the practice of physical activity (P<0.0001). The odds for meeting the recommendations were significantly higher among those with secondary than tertiary education. Compared to good self-health perception, subjects with poor or fair self-perceived health were less likely to meet the recommendations; this also applied to those attributing little or enough importance to physical activity compared with great importance.
Conclusions. Region, education, self-perceived health and perception of importance of physical activity were emerged as independent determinants of meeting the recommendations. Awareness of the positive health effects of physical activity might thus be crucial for motivating the people to become more active. Further research is needed to explore potential region-specific factors which might explain the difference in population behaviours with respect to physical activity.