Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Physical Exercise

Michal Korach

The Central Bureau of Statistics recently published the findings of a health survey that it had conducted for the purpose of providing data in the areas of health, use of healthcare services, health-related habits, and health insurance, as well as measuring changes in these indicators over time.

One of the survey questions addressed the issue of physical exercise. Physical exercise has important implications in terms of both physical and mental health. Engaging in physical exercise is important not only for losing weight and maintaining physical fitness, but also for improving one’s overall physical condition, reducing the likelihood of chronic illnesses, and improving wellbeing and mental health.

The survey indicates that during 2009, 20% of Israel’s population aged 20 and above engaged in physical exercise (a cumulative total of at least 30 minutes during the day) at least three times a week. The percentage of Jews and others (23%) who engaged in physical exercise was significantly higher than the percentage of Arabs (6%). Within the Jewish population there are significant differences in the level of engagement in physical exercise in accordance with place of birth: the highest percentage of those aged 20 and above who engaged in physical exercise was recorded among people born in Europe and America (25%), followed by those born in Israel (24%), Asia (21%), and Africa (16%).

The data indicate that a correlation exists between years of education and engagement in physical activity. As the years of education received increases, the percentage of people engaged in physical activity increases: among those with 0-8 years of education, 8% engaged in physical activity, compared to 23% among those with 13-15 years of education and 29% among those with 16 or more years of education.

The percentage of people who engage in physical exercise in Jerusalem is lower than in the other major cities. In Jerusalem approximately 19% of those aged 20 and above engaged in physical exercise, compared to 26% in Tel Aviv and Haifa and 23% in Rishon LeZion. As the graph indicates, the percentage of men who engage in physical exercise is generally higher than the percentage of women. The percentages of men and women who engage in physical exercise in Jerusalem are close, measuring 20% and 18%, respectively.