Physical activity in Brazil: lessons from ELSA-Brasil. Narrative review

ABSTRACT CONTEXT AND OBJECTIVE: The Brazilian Longitudinal Study of Adult Health (ELSA-Brasil) was conducted among civil servants at six higher education institutions located in six Brazilian state capitals. The objective of this review was to identify the publications produced within the scope of ELSA-Brasil that analyzed the participants’ physical activity. DESIGN AND SETTING: Review study using baseline data from ELSA-Brasil. METHODS: Narrative review of Brazilian studies on physical activity produced using data from ELSA-Brasil participants. RESULTS: The prevalence of leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) among ELSA-Brasil participants was low (44.1% among men and 33.8% among women). The main factors associated were social (higher schooling and family income), environmental (living in places with conditions and opportunities for physical activity) and individual (not being obese, being retired, not smoking and positive perception of body image). The perception of facilities for walking in the neighborhood was positively associated with both LTPA and commuting-related physical activity. An active lifestyle was a protective factor against several cardiometa-bolic variables (hypertension, diabetes, lipid abnormalities and cardiovascular risk over the next 10 years). Comparison between LTPA and commuting-related physical activity showed that only LTPA had a protective effect against arterial hypertension. CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence of physical activity among ELSA-Brasil participants was low. The main determinants were social, environmental and personal. LTPA had a greater protective efect on cardio-metabolic outcomes than did commuting-related physical activity.