Physical activity and selected health risk factors among local government employees in Vhembe District, Limpopo Province
Muluvhu, Takalani Clearance
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Physical inactivity is a global health concern affecting all people from different walks of life, including employees. It is well documented that physical inactivity is positively associated with other health risk indicators, including amongst others; obesity, dyslipidaemia and hypertension. However, the burden can be prevented in part by addressing certain lifestyle factors, such as healthy nutrition practices and regular physical activity, both of which are associated with the reduction of all causes of morbidity and mortality as well as chronic diseases of lifestyle. The objective of the study was therefore twofold; to determine the prevalence of physical inactivity and some selected risk factors of chronic diseases among local government employees in the Vhembe district, and to investigate the relationship between physical activity and the risk factors of chronic diseases among local government employees. A cross-sectional study design on an available sample of 533 (Men=251 and Women=282; age 24–65 years) local government employees in the Vhembe district in Limpopo province voluntarily participated in this study. A standardised physical activity questionnaire by Sharkey was used to determine the physical activity index (PAI) of the participants. Additionally, height and weight; and the clinical measures of waist circumference (WC) and blood pressure (BP) were assessed according to the American College of Sports Medicine standard procedures. Subsequently, body mass index (BMI) was calculated as weight divided by height squared (weight/height2). The results showed high (72%) prevalence of physical inactivity among employees. The high prevalence of physical inactivity was more pronounced in women (84%) as compared to men (72%), and also varies by age groups. Additionally, the results show the prevalence‟s of both overweight and obesity (26.6%; 35.1%) and a high risk of WC (48%) in the total sample. Women (49.6%) accounted for a higher percentage of obesity as compared to the men (18.7%). For the total group, the prevalence of pre-hypertension for SBP was 20.5% and 13.3% for DBP, and hypertension for SBP was 49.3% and 24.2% for DBP, respectively. Women showed a high prevalence of systolic hypertension (50%) as compared to men (48.6%), and these differ by levels of PA and age groups. BMI was highly associated with WC. Furthermore, the results indicated that there was significant relationship between measures of abdominal fatness and blood pressure, especially in women. The PAI was negatively related with age (r= -.15; p=0.000), fatness (BMI)(r= -0.14; p=0.01). PAI showed inverse relationship with SBP (r= - 0.09; p=0.03) and DBP (r= - 0.10; p=0.02). It can be concluded that there were high prevalence of physical inactivity, overweight, obesity and hypertension among the employees especially in women. PAI was negatively associated with measures of fatness (BMI and WC) and blood pressure (SBP and DBP). The study therefore recommends an urgent intervention programme, focusing on intervention campaigns about lifestyle diseases and their risk factors.