Gender Differences in Physical Activity

in Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal
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We examined gender differences in leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) in 50 women and 28 men using questionnaire data and identified how LTPA status may be misclassified based on physical activity questionnaire content. LTPA was determined using the Four Week Physical Activity History modification of the Minnesota LTPA questionnaire. LTPA was classified as total, light- (≤ 4.0 METS), moderate- (4.5-5.5 METS), and heavy-intensity (≥ 6.0 METs), and household LTPA. The questionnaire was administered 14 times (every 26 days). Scores were computed as kcal·day−1 and min·day−1 with the 14 visits averaged to yield one year LTPA scores. Skewed data were log-transformed and are presented as the geometric mean. There were no gender differences in kcal·day−1 for total- (385 vs 421), moderate- (28.2 vs 23.3), and light-intensity LTPA (72.2 vs 52.6, p > .05). Heavy-intensity LTPA was greater in men than in women (98.1 vs 50.5, p = 0.01), while household LTPA was greater in women than in men (238.2 vs 134.7, p < .0001). Omission of heavy-intensity LTPA from the questionnaire reduced total LTI’A by 25% in men and 12% in women. In contrast, omission of household LTPA reduced total LTPA by 35% in men and 57% in women. Thus LTPA may be underestimated and activity status misclassified if questionnaires fail to include activities with high gender-specific participation rates.

Dr. Ainsworth is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Education, Exercise and Sport Science and holds a joint appointment as Assistant Professor in the Department of Nutrition, School of Public Health. She received her Ph.D. in Exercise Physiology and M.P.H. in Epidemiology from the University of Minnesota. She holds a B.A. in Physical Education from California State University, Fresno. Dr. Ainsworth’s research interests are in physical activity assessment methods and the effects of exercise on disease risk factor reduction. Dr. Ainsworth is a fellow in the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). She serves as the Southeast ACSM Coordinator for the Healthy People 2000 Physical Activity and Fitness Objectives and is a member of the ACSM—National Osteoporosis Foundation Physical Activity Committee.

Direct correspondence to: Barbara E. Ainsworth, PhD, MPH, Department of Physical Education, Exercise, & Sport Science CB# 8700, Room 025 Fetzer Gym University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC 27599-8700
Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal
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