Persons with health problems participate less in physical activities, including sports, than persons without such health problems. Health problems include chronic diseases, like musculoskeletal disorders, cardiovascular diseases, and mental conditions, as well as physical disabilities, such as mobility, visual, and hearing impairments.
These are the results of a study performed by the National Institute of Public Health and the Environment commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports (VWS). In this study, self-reported data of over 380,000 adults from the Dutch 'Public Health monitor 2012' was used. The Dutch Physical Activity Guideline (NNGB) recommends to perform at least moderate intensity activities for a minimum of 30 minutes per day during 5 or more days per week. The cut-off points in this guideline for activities of moderate intensity are lower for persons aged 55+ compared to those aged 19-54. Therefore, adherence to the guideline is less strict for the older age group than for persons aged 19- 54 year, and results are presented separately for the two age groups.
Among persons with health problems aged 19-54 years, 33 to 52 per cent, depending on the health problem, adheres to the NNGB, against 55 per cent of healthy persons in this age group. In persons with health problems aged 55 years and over, this percentage is 42 to 71 per cent, versus 84 per cent in healthy 55+ year olds.
The number of persons performing sports on a weekly basis decreases with age; 54 per cent of the healthy 55+ year olds is involved in sports versus 68 per cent of the healthy 19-54 year olds. For persons with health problems, these percentages are 22 to 39 per cent and 33 to 56 respectively. The most common type of physical activity is fitness for both healthy persons and persons with health problems. Persons with a mobility impairment have the lowest level of sports participation, i.e. 33 and 22 per cent in 19-54 and 55+ years, respectively. This group also meets the NNGB less often.
The Ministry of VWS aims to promote physical activity and sports in the entire Dutch population, regardless of the presence of health problems. We therefore recommend to find out why the levels of physical activity and sports are lower in persons with a disease or disability, what their needs are with respect to physical activity and sports and whether facilities fit these needs.