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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014, Article ID 931820, 8 pages
Review Article

Factors behind Leisure-Time Physical Activity Behavior Based on Finnish Twin Studies: The Role of Genetic and Environmental Influences and the Role of Motives

1Department of Public Health, The Hjelt Institute, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 41, Mannerheimintie 172, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
2Department of Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä P.O. Box 35, 40014 Jyväskylä, Finland
3Institute for Molecular Medicine, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 21, Tukholmankatu 8, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
4Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, National Institute for Health and Welfare, P.O. Box 30, 00271 Helsinki, Finland

Received 29 October 2013; Revised 18 February 2014; Accepted 6 March 2014; Published 8 April 2014

Academic Editor: Meike Bartels

Copyright © 2014 Sari Aaltonen et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Different approaches are being taken to clarify the role of various factors in the development of physical activity behaviors. Genetic studies are a new area of physical activity research and also the motives for physical activity have been widely studied. The purpose of this paper is to review the findings emerging from the longitudinal genetic studies on leisure-time physical activity and to evaluate the associations between motivational factors and leisure-time physical activity. The focus is to review recent findings of longitudinal Finnish twin studies. The results of the latest longitudinal Finnish twin studies point to the existence of age-specific genetic and environmental influences on leisure-time physical activity. Variations in environmental factors seem to explain the observed deterioration in leisure-time physical activity levels. A decline in genetic influences is seen first from adolescence to young adulthood and again from the age of thirty to the mid-thirties. In the Finnish twin participants, mastery, physical fitness, and psychological state were the major motivation factors associated with consistent leisure-time physical activity behavior. The results also indicate that intrinsic motivation factors may be important for engagement in leisure-time physical activity.