Participation by US Adults in Sports, Exercise, and Recreational Physical Activities

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Given the evidence that regular physical activity produces substantial health benefits, participation in sports, exercise, and recreation is widely encouraged. The objective of this study was to describe participation in sports, exercise, and recreational physical activities among US adults.


Data from 2 national surveys of respondents age 18 years and older were analyzed. Respondents to the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) from 2003 through 2005 (N = 45,246) reported all activities on 1 randomly selected survey day. Respondents to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 1999 through 2004 (N = 17,061) reported leisure-time physical activities in the 30 days before the interview.


One-quarter of adults participated in any sport, exercise, or recreational activity on a random day, and 60.9% of adults participated in any leisure-time activity in the previous 30 days. The most common types of activities were walking, gardening and yard work, and other forms of exercise. The sports and recreational activities had typical durations of 1/2 to 3 hours per session, and the exercise activities typically lasted 1 hour or less.


The prevalence of sports, exercise, and recreational physical activities is generally low among US adults; exercise is the most commonly reported type of activity.

Ham is now with the University of Chicago Divinity School, Chicago, IL 60637. Kruger is with the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA 30341. Tudor-Lock is with the Walking Behavior Laboratory, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70808.

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