Physical activity: key data sources

The physical activity module of the Scottish Health Survey collects information on the frequency, usual duration and usual intensity of physical activity over the four-week period immediately prior to interview. This allows the calculation of summary measures of physical activity, so that levels of activity can be assessed against recognised guidelines. The Scottish Health Survey team now publish Supplementary Web Tables that provide data on a wide range of physical activity measures for both adults and children.

The Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) survey included one question that focused on physical activity of at least moderate intensity carried out at school and/or in free-time during the previous week. The question was: Over the past 7 days, on how many days were you physically active for a total of at least 60 minutes per day? The response categories were: 0 days, 1 day, 2 days, ...7 days.  A score of 5 or more classified the respondent as meeting the recommendation of one hour or more moderate activity on most days of the week (five or more). The 2009/10 report provides the most recent international comparison of the responses of boys and girls across countries in terms of the percentage of young people at least one hour daily on moderate/vigorous activity.

The Global Observatory for Physical Activity (GoPA!)a Council of the International Society of Physical Activity and Health, was established following the launch of The Lancet Physical Activity Series in 2012. The Observatory aims to produce biennial standardised Country Cards, including Scotland, highlighting the status of surveillance, policy and research in the field of physical activity and health.

The Active Healthy Kids Scotland Report Card was publsihed in 2013 and provided a 'state of the nation' report on the physical activity and health of Scottish children and adolescents. The report card draws on data from a wide range of sources to provide a 'grade' for ten indicators.   

The Scottish Household Survey includes a module of questions on travel and transport. This includes the question: How do you usually travel to work (or school/college/university if in full-time education)? The Culture and Sport module was introduced into the Scottish Household Survey in 2007 and contains questions about participation in sport in the last four weeks. There is also analysis on engagement with the 2014 Commonwealth Games, questions on which were included in the Scottish Household Survey for the first time in 2013.

The Health Education Population Survey ran annually from 1996 to 2007 and was replaced by the Knowledge, Attitudes and Motivations (KAM) module in the Scottish Health Survey, which began in 2008 but was decommissioned in 2011. Respondents were asked how much time in an average day they spend walking out of doors (excluding leisure-time walking such as hill-walking, rambling or golf). Respondents were also asked questions about a list of specific physical activities. They were asked if they do these activities in a typical week, how many times, if they put in enough effort to make them sweaty and out of breath, and how long on average they do the activities on each occasion.