Physical Activity And Life Span In a Finnish City

Por: Juhani Tahtinen, Olli J. Heinonen, Pasi Koski, Risto Rinne e Tuomas Zacheus.

Athens 2004: Pre-olympic Congress

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Our research group examined sports behaviour in a city of Turku, Finland. The life span was the main concept in this
research. We separated 7-75 years old people of Turku (n = 1165) into five groups by age. These groups were named in
the following way: 7-15 years old were "children", 16-25 years old were "youth", 26-45 years old were "life builders",
46-60 years old were "grown-up veterans" and 61-75 years old were "grown olds". The main question in this research
was: how the sports behaviour vary from age group to other?

The data was analysed by typical quantitative methods. Gross tabulations and chi-square tests were used in comparing
the age groups and variance analysis in comparing means. The linear dependence between variables were analysed by
correlation matrix. Factor analysis with cronbach alpha were used to format the sum variables. Means, the median test
and classifications were also used. The age groups were a good sample of the population of Turku (table 1).

In the middle of the life span, there is quite clear diminishing in physical activity. The young (children and youth) and
the old (grown-up veterans and grown olds) went in for physical activity more than the "middle age" group (life
builders). In addition, the life builders (26-45 years) were the most physically inactive and the grown olds (61-75 years)
were the most physically active age group in Turku. Why? Three reasons for the inactivity of life builders were found:
1) lack of time 2) family 3) laziness. A explanation for physical activity of grown olds was also found: low intensity of
it. Especially walking was the main form of physical activity for grown olds (84 % of them walked). Sport events which
age groups wanted to try showed that youth and life builders (16-45 years) wanted to "hunt experiences" for sport when
grown-up veterans and grown olds (46-75 years) sought for health and relaxation. Youth and life builders used also
more money for sport than grown-up veterans and grown olds. Sport spectatorship was also different between age
groups. Children, youth and life builders (7-45 years) were interested in team sports such as ice hockey and soccer
when grown-up veterans and grown olds (46-75 years) watched traditional individual sports such as athletics and crosscountry

Discussion/ Conclusions
Results in Turku describe signs of changes of society in Finland. In many cases, there were differences in sports
behaviour between younger and older ones. The very different experiences of life between the young and the old might
partly explain these differences in physical activity behaviour. To find out this relationship, longitudinal or generational
research is needed.

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