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Physical exercise in southern Germany: a cross-sectional study of an urban population
  1. Elli Rupps1,
  2. Mark Martin Haenle1,
  3. Juergen Steinacker2,
  4. Richard Andrew Mason3,
  5. Suemeyra Oeztuerk1,
  6. Ronald Steiner2,
  7. Wolfgang Kratzer1,
  8. the EMIL Study group*
  1. 1Department of Internal Medicine I, University Hospital Ulm, Ulm, Germany
  2. 2Department of Internal Medicine II, Division of Sports and Rehabilitation, University Hospital Ulm, Ulm, Germany
  3. 3Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Louis Stokes Cleveland, Brecksville, Ohio, USA
  1. Correspondence to Professor Wolfgang Kratzer; wolfgang.kratzer{at}


Objectives The aim of this study was to investigate the degree of physical exercise and self-assessment of physical fitness (PF) and their relationship to health- and behaviour-specific factors in a randomly selected sample of an urban population in southern Germany.

Design Cross-sectional study.

Setting In the southern German city of Leutkirch.

Participants 2187 subjects randomly selected from the registry of inhabitants. Of the selected group, aged 18–65 years, 52.1% were women and 47.9% men.

Primary and secondary outcome measures Participants were asked how many hours per week they spent on physical exercise and sports. They were also asked to rate their own performance and/or PF.

Results Overall, 38.9% of the participants reported no physical exercise. Men reported a higher level of physical exercise than did women. Less exercise was reported by subjects with diabetes, high body mass index and waist-to-hip ratio and by those who were underweight. Alcohol consumption, smoker status and higher educational level showed a positive association with physical exercise. A negative trend with respect to moderate physical exercise was observed for those with metabolic syndrome, diabetes, hypertension and hepatic steatosis, but this was statistically significant only for subjects with diabetes. In both men and women, there was a relationship between self-assessed ‘good’ PF and high physical exercise.

Conclusions The data show that a large proportion of the study population is not physically active; specific risk groups (overweight subjects, older subjects, smokers or subjects with low educational level) are even less active. The data suggest that there is a great potential for measures promoting physical exercise in these groups.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial License, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non commercial and is otherwise in compliance with the license. See: and

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  • * Members of the EMIL Study group (Echinococcus Multilocularis and Internal Diseases in Leutkirch): Adler G, Armsen A, Banzhaf H-M, Bauerdick M, Bertling U, Boehm B O, Brandner B O, Brockmann S O, Deckert M, Dingler C, Eggink S, Fuchs M, Gaus W, Goussis H, Gruenert A, Haenle M M, Hampl W, Haug C, Hay B, Huetter M-L, Imhof A, Kern P, Kimmig P, Kirch A, Klass D, Koenig W, Kratzer W, Kron M, Manfras B, Meitinger K, Mertens T, Oehme R, Pfaff G, Piechotowski I, Reuter S, Romig T, von Schmiesing A F A, Steinbach G, Tourbier M, Voegtle A, Walcher T, Wolff S.

  • To cite: Rupps E, Haenle MM, Steinacker J, et al. Physical exercise in southern Germany: a cross-sectional study of an urban population. BMJ Open 2012;2:e000713. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2011-000713

  • Contributors Substantial contributions to conception and design, acquisition of data or analysis and interpretation of data: ER, MMH, RS, SO, JS and WK. Drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content: ER, RAM, MMH, RS, SO, JS and WK. Final approval of the version to be published: ER, RAM, MMH, RS, SO, JS and WK.

  • Funding This work was funded by the Baden-Württemberg State Health Office of the District Government of Stuttgart, Germany, as well as the Regional Health Office in Ravensburg, Germany. Further support was provided by the city of Leutkirch, Germany. Phials for blood samples and part of the laboratory testing were supplied by Sarstedt AG & Co, Nümbrecht, Germany.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval Ethical approval was provided by the Research Ethics Committee of the Baden-Württemberg State Medical Council.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement There is no additional data available.

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