Physical activity and associated factors from a cross-sectional survey among adults in northern Tanzania

Beatrice John, Jim Todd, Innocent Mboya, Mary Mosha, Mark Urassa and Tara Mtuy
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Insufficient physical activity (PA) is a major contributing factor in the growing problem of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in urban and rural Sub-Saharan Africa. This study aimed to determine PA and associated factors among adults in Northern Tanzania.


We analyzed secondary data from a cross-sectional serological survey nested within the Magu health and demographic sentinel surveillance population in Magu District Northwestern Tanzania. All resident adults aged 15 years and older were invited to participate in the study, and physical activity data were analyzed for 5663 participants. Data were analyzed using Stata version 13.0. We used logistic regression to obtain odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for risk factors associated with differences in PA.


In this mainly rural population, 96% reported sufficient PA, with a higher proportion in males (97.3%) compared to females (94.8%). In males the odds of sufficient PA were lower in rural areas compared to urban areas (OR = 0.19; P < 0.001; 95% CI = 0.08–0.42), while in females the odds of sufficient PA were higher in rural areas compared to urban areas (OR = 2.27; P < 0.001; 95%CI = 1.59–3.24). Leisure-related activity was low compared to work-related and transport-related activity. Farmers had a higher odds of sufficient PA than those in professional jobs in both males (OR = 9.75; P < 0.001; 95% CI = 3.68–5.82) and females (OR = 2.83; P = 0.021; 95% CI = 1.17–6.86).


The prevalence of PA in this population was high. However, there is need for PA programs to maintain the high level of compliance during and following the transition to a more urban-based culture.