Objectively-measured physical activity patterns and associated health parameters in multimorbidity

Lars Bo Jørgensen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: ThesisPh.D. thesis

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Physical activity has shown promising results as a means of preventing and treating individual chronic diseases, and there is currently evidence that at least 26 chronic diseases can be prevented or treated with exercise. The latest evidence also suggests that exercise appears to be a side-effect-free and possibly effective tool for treating multimorbidity (two or more concurrent diseases).

However, physical activity is more than just structured exercise therapy and occurs as a natural part of daily life, such as work, daily tasks, or transportation. This is interesting because recent research suggests that there are significant health-promoting effects associated with even small increases in physical activity levels, even if they do not reach the level of the general minimum recommendations. Therefore, there is intensive research into developing tailored treatments for multimorbidity based on physical activity.

To develop personalized and targeted treatment for multimorbidity, knowledge is needed, both about their general physical activity levels and about the factors related to their multimorbidity that influence this. Currently, this knowledge is sparse, as multimorbidity is a relatively new research area.

This PhD project contributes concrete knowledge to the research area on several points. Through mapping existing literature focusing on objectively measured physical activity among adults with multimorbidity, we found that there are currently few studies that have reported physical activity data. We could also conclude that the studies available are of low quality. Based on data from a Danish population study, we found that adults with multimorbidity are sedentary for more than 9.5
hours per day. We also found that at least 63% do not meet the minimum recommendations for physical activity. Furthermore, we showed that there is a clear correlation between an increased number of diseases and a decreasing level of physical activity and that individuals with a combination of mental and somatic diseases are less active than those with exclusively somatic diseases. Finally, we found that several clinical characteristics and sociodemographic factors in this population seem to be associated with increased sedentary behaviour. Specifically, we found that an increased body mass index, an increased number of diseases, reduced mental well-being, civil status (living alone), and status as unemployed or retired are associated with increased sedentary behaviour.

The results of this PhD project emphasize, first and foremost, the significant untapped potential for increasing physical activity and reducing sedentary behaviour among adults with multimorbidity. However, the results also directly address healthcare professionals who have contact with individuals with multimorbidity in clinical practice, as certain patient characteristics seem to provide an opportunity to discuss the health behaviour of individuals with multimorbidity regarding physical activity.

Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Southern Denmark
  • Skou, Søren Thorgaard, Principal supervisor
  • Grøntved, Anders, Co-supervisor
  • Tang, Lars Hermann, Co-supervisor
External participants
Publication statusPublished - 22. Feb 2024


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