Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Sex- and age-specific seasonal variations in physical activity among adults
  1. G R McCormack1,
  2. C Friedenreich2,
  3. A Shiell1,
  4. B Giles-Corti3,
  5. P K Doyle-Baker4
  1. 1Population Health Intervention Research Centre, Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  2. 2Division of Population Health, Alberta Health Services, Alberta, Canada
  3. 3Centre for the Built Environment and Health, School of Population Health, University of Western Australia, Australia
  4. 4Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Gavin McCormack, Population Health Intervention Research Centre, University of Calgary, 3rd Floor TRW Building, 3280 Hospital Drive, NW Calgary, Alberta T2N 4Z6, Canada; gmccorma{at}


Background To examine seasonal variations in self-reported physical activity among an urban population of Calgarian adults.

Method Telephone surveys were conducted with two independent random cross-sectional samples of adults in summer and autumn 2007 (n=2199) and in winter and spring 2008 (n=2223). Participation and duration of walking for recreation (WR), walking for transportation (WT), moderate (MODPA) and vigorous physical activity (VIGPA) undertaken in a usual week were captured. Seasonal comparisons of participation related to these activities and sufficient MODPA (≥210 min/week) and VIGPA (≥90 min/week) physical activity were examined using logistic regression.

Results Compared with winter, participation in WR was significantly (p<0.05) more likely in summer (OR 1.42), autumn (OR 1.35) and spring (OR 1.40), WT was more likely in autumn (OR 1.27), and MODPA was more likely in summer (OR 1.42). Achievement of sufficient MODPA was significantly more likely in summer (OR 1.80), autumn (OR 1.31) and spring (OR 1.24). Although there was no seasonal variation in sufficient VIGPA overall, variations in seasonal pattern among sub-populations were observed. Sex- and age-specific seasonal patterns in physical activity were also found.

Conclusion Measuring physical activity throughout the year, rather than at one time point, would more accurately monitor physical activity and assist in developing seasonally appropriate physical activity interventions. Moreover, in countries that experience extreme weather conditions, creating physical activity-friendly environments that help overcome these conditions might contribute to year-long physical activity participation.

  • Seasonality
  • exercise
  • health
  • surveys
  • environment
  • health behaviour
  • seasonal variation

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Funding Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR); Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research (AHFMR); National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC); National Heart Foundation (NHF).

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the Conjoint Health Research Ethics Board at the University of Calgary.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.