People with more knowledge about benefits of physical activity may also exercise more

Most people have a poor understanding of how much physical activity is good for you, and what health benefits such activity conveys. But the better your knowledge on these topics, the more physical activity you’re likely to get, according to a study published November 28, 2018 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE.

A study from Central Queensland University in Australia, led by Stephanie Schoeppe, surveyed 615 Australian adults about their physical activity as well as their level of knowledge about physical activity’s health benefits and the risks of inactivity. Based on their answers, each participant was assigned a ranking in four areas: knowing that physical activity is beneficial and inactivity is harmful; knowing that specific health conditions are related to inactivity; knowing how much physical activity is recommended; and applying this knowledge to one’s own risks. Participants were 24.4% male and 75.3% female, between 18 and 77 years old, with a median age of 43, and had a range of education levels and employment statuses relatively representative of the general Australian population.

While the vast majority (99.6%) of participants strongly agreed that physical activity is good for health, most were not aware of all the diseases associated with inactivity. On average, participants correctly identified 13.8 out of 22 diseases associated with a lack of physical activity. Moreover, 55.6% incorrectly answered how much physical activity is needed for health, and 80% of people failed to identify the probabilities of developing diseases without physical activity. A significant association was found between these scores on knowledge of the probabilities of inactivity-related diseases and how active a person was. Future research is needed to determine whether the results hold true equally between men and women, and whether the survey-based data correctly gauges a person’s true levels of physical activity.

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