Physical Activity

The second half of the twentieth century was characterized by remarkable technological advances both in developed and most of the developing countries, as is the case for Chile. All these advancements have had a tremendous impact on lifestyles. Fifty years ago, car availability and affordibility was fairly low in the country, and people were used to walking long distances. The census carried out in 2002 showed that 60.4% of Chilean homes own at least one car [8]. Likewise, 50 years ago, TV ownership was limited in Chile and children spent much more time than today in physical exercise. Nowadays 90% of all homes own a TV that has nonstop programming, inducing people to watch it for hours at a time, and thereby interfering with any kind of physical activity [8]. To this we have to add the hours sitting in front of a computer. Although the 1992 census did not even consider the item, 10 years later the census determined that 21% of all Chilean homes have a computer. Additionally, there is an increased concern for safety and security, so the exercise usually done on the street and parks has practically disappeared. Thus, all these factors have contributed to the fact that the population, especially women, spend a limited amount of time in exercise.

The female population presents a higher prevalence of physical inactivity than males. The National Health Survey (NHS) done in Chile in 2003 showed that 90% of the women aged 17-44 years were classified as sedentary (less than 30 min each of exercise three times a week) [9]. This was confirmed by the Quality of Life Survey of 2005 which showed that 95.9% of women interviewed had not performed any exercise outside of the work place for at least 30 min [8]. This level of inactivity has also been demonstrated in smaller surveys carried out in the country [10].

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