Article Text

Physical activity patterns and socio-demographic correlates of physical activity among medical undergraduates in Sri Lanka: an observational study
  1. Arjuna Medagama,
  2. Manoj Galgomuwa,
  3. Chinthani De Silva
  1. Department of Medicine, University of Peradeniya, Peradeniya, Sri Lanka
  1. Correspondence to Dr Arjuna Medagama, Department of Medicine, University of Peradeniya, 2004, Sri Lanka; arjuna.medagama{at}


Background Physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for mortality worldwide and a leading risk factor for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Medical undergraduates are a group of young adults expected to have a sound knowledge of the benefits of physical activity (PA) and have an active lifestyle.

Objective To quantifyPA levels among medical undergraduates of a Sri Lankan university and to determine the socio-demographic correlates of physical inactivity.

Methods Medical undergraduates in their third, fourth and fifth years of study were recruited for this quantitative, descriptive, cross-sectional study using a self-administered questionnaire.

Results A total of 421 students were recruited. Overall 41% were physically inactive. Females (47%) were more inactive than males (34%). The total mean weekly metabolic equivalent (MET)-minutes was 1468.2±1873. Males (1676.2±1629) had a higher mean weekly MET minutes than females (1319±20102), p=0.05. 88% owned a portable internet device such as a smartphone or tablet. Students using health-related apps on their devices had significantly higherPA (p=0.01) and lower body mass index (BMI) (p=0.04), than those who did not. Binary logistic regression revealed physical inactivity to be significantly associated with gender (p=0.01), not using a health-promoting app on their portable device (p=0.01) and the year of study (p=0.03).

Conclusion Physical inactivity is a significant problem among medical undergraduates. The use of health applications was associated with a higher PA and lower BMI. The reasons for inactivity and the discrepancy in activity levels between males and females needs to be explored in greater detail.

  • physical activity
  • medical undergraduates
  • BMI
  • smartphones use

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  • Contributors AM: Conceptualised the project, searched the literature, collected and analysed the data and wrote the manuscript. MG, CDS: Collected and analysed the data.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval Institutional Ethics Review Committee, Faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka.

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

  • Data sharing statement Data are available from the authors.

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