University of Oulu

Niemelä, M., Kangas, M., Ahola, R., Auvinen, J., Leinonen, A., Tammelin, T., Vaaramo, E., Keinänen-Kiukaanniemi, S., Korpelainen, R., Jämsä, T. (2019) Dose-response relation of self-reported and accelerometer-measured physical activity to perceived health in middle age—the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966 Study. BMC Public Health, 19 (1), . doi:10.1186/s12889-018-6359-8

Dose-response relation of self-reported and accelerometer-measured physical activity to perceived health in middle age : the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966 study

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Author: Niemelä, Maisa S.1,2,3; Kangas, Maarit1,3; Ahola, Riikka J.4;
Organizations: 1Research Unit of Medical Imaging, Physics and Technology, University of Oulu, PO Box 5000, 90014 Oulu, Finland
2Infotech, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
3Medical Research Center, Oulu University Hospital and University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
4Polar Electro, Kempele, Finland
5Center for Life Course Health Research, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
6Department of Sports and Exercise Medicine, Oulu Deaconess Institute, Oulu, Finland
7LIKES Research Centre for Physical Activity and Health, Jyväskylä, Finland
8Health Center of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
9Healthcare and Social Services of Selänne, Pyhäjärvi, Finland
10Diagnostic Radiology, Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.7 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2019
Publish Date: 2019-04-15


Background: Regular physical activity (PA) promotes health and decreases mortality. The positive relationship between PA and perceived health (PH) is well known. However, previous research in the field has often used self-reported PA measures. The aim of this population-based NFBC1966 birth cohort study was to assess the relationship between both self-reported and objectively measured PA and PH in midlife.

Methods: A sample group of 6384 participants (2878 men, 3506 women, response rate 62%) aged 46 completed a questionnaire on PH and health behaviors, including items on weekly leisure time physical activity (LTPA) and daily sitting time (ST). PH was dichotomized as good (very good or good) and other (fair, poor, or very poor). PA was measured with a wrist-worn Polar Active (Polar Electro, Finland) accelerometer for 14 days (n = 5481, 98%) and expressed as daily average time spent in moderate to vigorous intensity PA (MVPA). Odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals for good PH were calculated using binary logistic regression and adjusted for relevant demographic, socioeconomic, and health characteristics, and ST.

Results: The level of PA was positively associated with PH after adjustments with covariates and ST. There was a dose-response relationship across the PA quartiles according to the adjusted multivariable models. Self-reported LTPA was more strongly associated with good PH (OR from 1.72 to 4.33 compared to lowest PA quartile) than objectively measured PA (OR from 1.37 to 1.66 compared to lowest PA quartile).

Conclusions: In this large population-based birth cohort study, we for the first time show a positive dose-response relationship of both self-reported and objectively measured PA to PH, the relationship being stronger for self-reported LTPA. Despite the cross-sectional design of this study, the results from this large sample suggest that both self-reported and objectively measured physical activity are strongly associated with PH, which is a predictor of morbidity and mortality, and regular PA should be encouraged in midlife.

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Series: BMC public health
ISSN: 1471-2458
ISSN-E: 1471-2458
ISSN-L: 1471-2458
Volume: 19
Article number: 21
DOI: 10.1186/s12889-018-6359-8
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 315 Sport and fitness sciences
Funding: NFBC1966 received financial support from University of Oulu [grant number 24000692], Oulu University Hospital [grant number 24301140], and ERDF European Regional Development Fund [grant number 539/2010 A31592]. The study has been financially supported by Ministry of Education and Culture in Finland [grant numbers OKM/86/626/2014, OKM/43/626/2015, OKM/17/626/2016], and Infotech Oulu, Finland. The funders of the study did not have any role in the design of the study, data collection, analysis, and interpretation or in writing the manuscript.
Copyright information: © The Author(s). 2019. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.