Physical activity behaviour in the tropics

Remco Polman, Fiona Chun Man Ling, Erika Borkoles

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


First we reviewed studies examining the role of climate on physical activity (PA) behavior. This highlights the limited knowledge and guidelines currently exist on the moderating influence of a tropical or hot climate on the PA behaviors of individuals.

Secondly, we examined the role climate on PA in children and clinically obese individuals. Contrary to previous findings from Caucasian young children, our data on habitual PA levels in Hong Kong primary school-aged children seem to suggest no seasonal variations. From the Chinese medicinal perspective, 'sweating' was considered as a sign of good health as expressed by the Hong Kong young children we recently interviewed. Therefore, Hong Kong children and parents may regard PA in the heat as beneficial to health. Alternatively, the increasing physiological evidence indicates that young children's thermoregulatory ability during exercise in the heat is not necessarily inferior to that of adults, thus biologically, children's habitual PA may not be prone to climatic changes in the tropics as commonly believed. Given the possible subjective climatic constraints, Hong Kong young children appear to favor indoor sporting options like swimming and activities that are likely to generate 'breeziness'.

All of the above arguments appear to lend support to human's adaptiveness to their environmental demands. Finally we discuss the difficulties and barriers to exercise of morbidly obese women in thermally comfortable conditions. We will extrapolate findings to tropical conditions, examining the likelihood of exercising with severe obesity in the tropics. We conclude that humans adapt to their environmental demands.

However, there is a need to examine the influence of humid tropical conditions on physical activity and exercise behavior and develop evidence based guidelines for these environmental conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationScience of Sport, Exercise and Physical Activity in the Tropics
EditorsAndrew Edwards, Anthony Leicht
PublisherNova Science Publishers
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)9781631177378
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014

Publication series

NameSports and Athletics Preparation, Performance, and Psychology
PublisherNova Science Publishers


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