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Introduction: Although South Asians are considered to be at high risk for cardiovascular diseases, research evidence on the health impacts of physical activity (PA) remains very limited. In this study we aimed to explore the patterns of PA and to investigate whether engaging in regular PA is associated with better Self-Rated Health (SRH) among South Asians.
Methods: Cross-sectional data on population health were drawn from the World Health Survey of WHO. Subjects were 28,020 male and female South Asians (from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka) aged 18 years and above. Data were analysed using descriptive and multivariable logistic regression analyses.
Results: The proportion of the sample population reported good SRH was 44.3%, 58.7%, 37.7%, and 73.7% in Bangladeshis, Indians, Nepalese, and Sri Lankans, respectively. Regular engagement in moderate PA was highest in Nepal (69.7%) and lowest in Bangladesh (37.4%). Vigorous PA was highest in India (29.9%) and lowest in Bangladesh (17.9%). In Bangladesh, compared to those never engaged in MPA, those who engaged for 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, or 7 days a week were 30% [AOR=1.306; 95%CI 1.085-1.572], 33% [AOR=1.326; 95%CI 1.093-1.609], 39% [AOR=1.389; 95%CI 1.125-1.716], and 46% [AOR=1.459; 95%CI 1.249-1.705] more likely to report being in good health, respectively.
Conclusions: We found that self-reported engagement in physical activities varies in South Asian countries. Since engaging in PA may help improve subjective and objective health status, health policy makers need to focus on designing exercise-friendly neighbourhoods in an attempt to promote population health.
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