Linking the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) and the Compendium of Physical Activities: Methods and Rationale

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background:

The 2003 Bureau of Labor Statistics American Time Use Survey (ATUS) contains 438 distinct primary activity variables that can be analyzed with regard to how time is spent by Americans. The Compendium of Physical Activities is used to code physical activities derived from various surveys, logs, diaries, etc to facilitate comparison of coded intensity levels across studies.

Methods:

This article describes the methods, challenges, and rationale for linking Compendium estimates of physical activity intensity (METs, metabolic equivalents) with all activities reported in the 2003 ATUS.

Results:

The assigned ATUS intensity levels are not intended to compute the energy costs of physical activity in individuals. Instead, they are intended to be used to identify time spent in activities broadly classified by type and intensity. This function will complement public health surveillance systems and aid in policy and health-promotion activities. For example, at least one of the future projects of this process is the descriptive epidemiology of time spent in common physical activity intensity categories.

Conclusions:

The process of metabolic coding of the ATUS by linking it with the Compendium of Physical Activities can make important contributions to our understanding of American’s time spent in health-related physical activity.

Tudor-Locke is with the Walking Behavior Laboratory, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70808. Washington is with the Walking Research Laboratory, and Washington and Ainsworth, the Dept of Exercise and Wellness, Arizona State University, Mesa, AZ 85212. Troiano is with the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD 20852.