A new study reveals the level of physical activity and sport per European country

| Published by University of Barcelona

Educational and economic levels of the analyzed countries are highly related to the practice of physical activity of their citizens.

A new study reveals the level of physical activity and sport per European country

Sweden, Finland and Denmark are the European countries that do more sport on a regular basis, according to a study published in the Open Access Library Journal, by the experts Antonio Monleón-Getino, Marta Cubedo, Martín Ríos, from the Faculty of Biology of the University of Barcelona, and Daniel Ríos, professor at the Sales Upper Secondary School in Viladecans (Barcelona). According to the conclusions, people in Portugal, Italy, Spain and especially Greece, are listed below the European average regarding the indicators on population and sport.

Sedentarism and lack of physical activity is having more and more incidences in the public health of western countries. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) , which has been reminding about the value of physical activity to promote health and prevent some pathologies, the lack of physical activity is the fourth risk factor in global mortality, and the main cause of more than 21% breast and colon cancers, the 27% of diabetes cases and around the 30% of the coronary heart diseases.

The new study published in Open Access Library covers general aspects of the physical activity and does not focus on any sport in particular. It is based on the multivariate analysis of data from around 27.000 people from 27 European countries according to the information published by the Eurobarometer of the European Commission on the practice of sport stated by people over 15. For each analysed country, the experts analyse the practice of physical exercise and sport of their inhabitants, who are listed in four categories: the ones who never play sport, barely play, occasionally play, and regularly play sport.

Physical activity in Europe: a new inequality map?

"Once we analysed the regularity with which people do sport in 27 countries of the European Union, we saw that Nordic countries, Sweden, Finland and Denmark, play sport more regularly" says Daniel Ríos, lecturer of secondary education at the Sales High School.

After Sweden, Finland and Denmark, the countries with best indicators of physical activity are Slovenia, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, the United Kingdom and France. The lower levels in physical activity were recorded in Bulgaria and Greece.

"As a conclusion -says Daniel Ríos- we think educational and economical levels of these countries are highly related to the practice of physical activity and sport of the people". This scientific study describes how the regular practice of sport and exercise is related to adults involved in educational activities, and with a high level of satisfaction with their economic status and career profile.

In the case of Spain, "the level of sport practice is co-related with the socioeconomic status, as it was seen in the Survey of Sporting Habits in Spain 2015. The survey, carried out in the National Statistics Plan 2013-2016 by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport; the Senior Council for Sports and the National Institute of Statistics, aimed to bring the main indicators of sporting habits and practices of people from all the country" says Antonio Monleón-Getino, from the Department of Genetics, Microbiology and Statistics of the University of Barcelona, and member of the Research Group on Biostatistics and Bioinformatics (GRBIO), team integrated in the platform Bioinformatics Barcelona (BIB).

A multivariate statistical technique with great analytical power

The study uses a multidimensional scaling method (MDS) to represent the series of variables or the 27 European studied countries and a country with an average value (which would be the average of the countries that make the European Union up).

According to professor Daniel Ríos, "the MDS method tries to show in a Euclidean space, with few dimensions, the proximities or distances between a set of objects, countries in this case. This technique combines a great capacity to reduce data with high a high graphic potential and represent them in a space with few dimensions (two or three)".

"The MDS is very interesting because it complements other multivariate techniques (factor analysis, cluster, etc.) and allows resolving complex multivariate data collections where the relation between variables is defined with statistical proximity or distance. In this article, as a methodological novelty, the Bhattacharyya distance is applied to calculate the distance between countries" said the authors.

According to the experts, the new study wants to promote future researches based on the application of multivariate methods on the management and interpretation of statistical information.

Original article

D. Ríos, T. Monleón-Getino, M. Cubedo, M. Ríos. «A Graphical Classification of European Countries According to Physical Activity Level of Its Citizens». Open Access Library Journal, December, 2016.

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