Extending Daylight Savings Time (DST) has been identified as a policy intervention that may encourage physical activity. However, there has been little research on the question of if DST encourages adults to be more physically active.
Data from residents of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah ages 18–64 who participated in the 2003–2009 American Time Use Survey are used to assess whether DST is associated with increased time spent in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA). The analysis capitalizes on the natural experiment created because Arizona does not observe DST.
Both bivariate and multivariate analyses indicate that shifting 1 hour of daylight from morning to evening does not impact MVPA of Americans living in the southwest.
While DST may affect the choices people make about the timing and location of their sports/recreational activities, the potential for DST to serve as a broad-based intervention that encourages greater sports/recreation participation is not supported by this analysis. Whether this null effect would persist in other climate situations is an open question.
The author is with Dept of Family and Consumer Studies, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT.