A cross-sectional examination of physical activity levels and their socio-demographic determinants in Southern Tanzania

Beverly Msambichaka, Ramadhani Abdul, Salim Abdulla, Paul Klatser, Marcel Tanner, Ramaiya Kaushik, Bettina Bringolf-Isler, Eveline Geubbels, Ikenna C. Eze*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Physical activity is essential for healthy aging. Evidence suggests that vigorous-intensity physical activity (VPA) may be more beneficial than moderate-intensity physical activity (MPA). We examined physical activity levels (MPA, VPA and total physical activity), and their socio-demographic determinants in 2311 participants (15–93 years; 68% women) of the MZIMA Open Community Cohort, who had complete relevant data. Physical activity levels were estimated in minutes per week across three domains—work, leisure and transport. We created three outcome variables: low MPA (<150 min per week of MPA), low VPA (<75 min per week of VPA) and insufficient physical activity (IPA: <150 min per week of total physical activity) and applied sample-weighted multivariable logistic regression to assess associations with potential socio-demographic determinants. Prevalence of IPA, low MPA and low VPA were 25%, 26% and 65% respectively. IPA and low MPA were correlated (Spearman R = 0.98; p < 0.001). Work, leisure and transport contributed 54%, 25% and 21% to total physical activity respectively. IPA and low VPA were significantly associated with female sex, lower education, non-manual occupation and frequent fruit consumption. We observed significant differences by sex (Pheterogeneity < 0.001), on the associations between education and IPA, and between age, occupation and low VPA. In conclusion, low levels of VPA, which were more pronounced in women, support the monitoring and promotion of VPA alongside overall physical activity. Leisure-related activities should also be promoted towards gains in vigorous-intensity and total physical activity in this setting.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1054
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number6
Early online date23 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018


Acknowledgments: This study was supported by Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Netherlands Initiative for Capacity Building in Higher Education, and Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria (Round 9). Authors are thankful to the entire Ifakara Health Institute MZIMA team and study participants.

FundersFunder number
Netherlands Initiative for Capacity Building in Higher Education
Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute
Public Health Institute


    • Adults
    • Cross-sectional study
    • Determinants
    • Leisure
    • Physical activity
    • Tanzania
    • Vigorous physical activity


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