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Association of physical fitness with health-related quality of life in Finnish young men

Arja Häkkinen12*, Marjo Rinne3, Tommi Vasankari34, Matti Santtila5, Keijo Häkkinen6 and Heikki Kyröläinen6

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Central Hospital, Jyväskylä, Finland

2 Department of Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland

3 UKK-Institute for Health Promotion Research, Tampere, Finland

4 The National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland

5 Defence Command, Personnel Division, Finnish Defence Forces, Finland

6 Department of Biology of Physical Activity, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland

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Health and Quality of Life Outcomes 2010, 8:15  doi:10.1186/1477-7525-8-15

Published: 29 January 2010

Abstract

Background

Currently, there is insufficient evidence available regarding the relationship between level of physical fitness and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in younger adults. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to investigate the impact of measured cardiovascular and musculoskeletal physical fitness level on HRQoL in Finnish young men.

Methods

In a cross-sectional study, we collected data regarding the physical fitness index, including aerobic endurance and muscle fitness, leisure-time physical activity (LTPA), body composition, health, and HRQoL (RAND 36) for 727 men [mean (SD) age 25 (5) years]. Associations between HRQoL and the explanatory parameters were analyzed using the logistic regression analysis model.

Results

Of the 727 participants who took part in the study, 45% were in the poor category of the physical fitness, while 37% and 18% were in the satisfactory and good fitness categories, respectively. A higher frequency of LTPA was associated with higher fitness (p < 0.001). Better HRQoL in terms of general health, physical functioning, mental health, and vitality were associated with better physical fitness. When the HRQoL of the study participants were compared with that of the age- and gender-weighted Finnish general population, both the good and satisfactory fitness groups had higher HRQoL in all areas other than bodily pain. In a regression analysis, higher LTPA was associated with three dimensions of HRQoL, higher physical fitness with two, and lower number of morbidities with all dimensions, while the effect of age was contradictory.

Conclusions

Our study of Finnish young men indicates that higher physical fitness and leisure-time physical activity level promotes certain dimensions of HRQoL, while morbidities impair them all. The results highlight the importance of health related physical fitness while promoting HRQoL.