Topographic conditions and physical activity behaviour of young adults in Austria
In Austria there is an east-west divide concerning the amount of physical activity that has been detected. This is associated with poorer health in the eastern region of Austria compared to the western. Experts think that differences in topographic conditions might be a reason for these differences. However this hypothesis until now has not been scientifically proven. This study incorporates a multi-staged approach. First, outdoor physical activity behaviour (levels of exercise, favourite activities etc.) among people aged between 18-35 and living in Burgenland (n=150), as well as levels of physical activity in general, were compared with those of people at the same age living in Tyrol (n=150), by using a semi-standardized quantitative online-survey. To determine if differences between these two groups were significant the chi-squared test was used. In addition satisfaction with opportunities for outdoor physical exercise, motives, barriers and wishes concerning design of green spaces were analysed. Finally experts, working in the field of physical activity promotion (n=9), discussed within a focus group how to implement results into practice. The hypothesis that topographic conditions have an influence on physical activity behaviour was confirmed. For example, people living in Tyrol are more likely to engage in mountain sports than those living in Burgenland, while Nordic Walking is more popular in Burgenland compared to Tyrol (P<0.05). The results also show that people living in Tyrol are more physically active in general (P<0.05) as well as do more outdoor sport than people living in Burgenland (P<0.05). In addition some barriers as well as need for action could be identified in both regions.The natural environment influences levels of physical activity as well as sport activities among local populations. However differences in topographic conditions are not like to be the only reason for east-west differences concerning levels and forms of physical activity. Expert recommendations need to be implemented in the future. Further research needs to be conducted to examine the role of other potential explanations for east-west differences.
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