Rates of Physical Activity Among Employed Adults

Author: Monica Preboth
Date: Oct 1, 2000

A report in the May 19, 2000 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report examined the prevalence of regular physical activity among working adults. The report is a summary of the results from the 1990 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS).

To determine the prevalence of leisure-time and occupational physical activity, researchers collected data on 20,766 employed civilian adults 18 years and older. Survey respondents were asked to identify the frequency and duration of their participation in 24 sports and conditioning activities during the two weeks before the survey. They were also asked to record the number of hours per day they spent doing hard physical labor on the job. Leisure-time physical activities were scored on intensity, frequency and duration of effort.

According to the report, during leisure-time about 63.9 percent of employed adults in the United States do not meet current recommendations for participation in moderate or vigorous physical activity. Researchers also found that women, older adults, persons with fewer than 12 years of education and ethnic/ racial minorities are most likely to be inactive during leisure time. However, many persons from groups that are sedentary during leisure time may be getting sufficient occupational physical activity.

According to the researchers, the findings are subject to at least four limitations: (1) estimates are based on self-reported activity and may be overestimates; (2) recall of the 24 types of leisure-time physical activity may have resulted in under-reporting if seasonal or irregular activities were not performed during the two-week period; (3) this study does not provide information on other sources of physical activity, such as transportation or housework, which may be disproportionately higher in certain groups such as women and minorities; and (4) questions about occupational physical activity have not been asked since the 1990 NHIS, and the level of physical activity during work may have changed during the past decade.

COPYRIGHT 2000 American Academy of Family PhysiciansCOPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group

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