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Epidemiol Health. 2017;39(1):e2017044. English. Original Article.
Rahimi E , Hashemi-Nazari SS , Etemad K , Soori H .
Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.
Safety Promotion and Injury Prevention Research Center, School of Public Health, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.


While gender differences in physical activity (PA) have been reported, their origin is not well understood. The present study aimed to identify factors contributing to this disparity.


This was a population-based cross-sectional study based on the 2011 surveillance of risk factors of non-communicable diseases that was conducted among Iranian adults. Multi-staged sampling was performed to obtain the required study sample. The primary outcome was gender differences in the prevalence of sufficient physical activity (SPA). Total physical activity (TPA) was calculated as metabolic equivalents (MET) per minute during a typical week, as recommended by the World Health Organization. On this basis, achieving 600 MET-min/wk or more was defined as SPA. The nonlinear Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition technique was used to explain the disparity.


The predicted gap was 19.50%. About one-third of the gap was due to differences in the level of observable covariates. Among them, work status contributed the most (29.61%). A substantial portion of the gap remained unexplained by such differences, of which about 40.41% was related to unobservable variables. The differential effects of standard of living, ethnicity, and smoking status made the largest contribution, accounting for 37.36, 35.47, and 28.50%, respectively.


Interventions to reduce the gender gap in PA should focus on increasing TPA among housewives and women with chronic diseases, as well as those with a higher standard of living. In addition, it is essential to explore the impact of ethnicity and smoking status on women's TPA in order to promote health.

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