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Shifan Dai, Dianna D. Carroll, Kathleen B. Watson, Prabasaj Paul, Susan A. Carlson and Janet E. Fulton

Background:

Information on specific types of physical activities in which US adults participate is important for community and program development to promote physical activity.

Methods:

Prevalence of participation and average time spent for 33 leisuretime aerobic activities and 10 activity categories were calculated using self-reported data from 22,545 participants aged ≥ 18 years in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999–2006.

Results:

Overall, 38% of US adults reported no leisure-time physical activities, and 43% reported 1 or 2 activities in the past 30 days. Walking was the most frequently reported activity for both men (29%) and women (38%). Among walkers, the average time spent walking was 198 minutes/week for men and 152 minutes/week for women. The most reported activities for men after walking were bicycling and yard work, and for women were aerobics and dance. For most activity categories, participation was lower among adults aged ≥ 65 years than among younger adults, and among Mexican Americans and non-Hispanic blacks than among non-Hispanic whites. Participation in most categories increased with increasing educational attainment.

Conclusions:

Participation in physical activity differs by types of activities and demographic characteristics. Physical activity promotion programs should take these differences into account when developing intervention strategies.

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Kathleen B. Watson, Ginny M. Frederick, Carmen D. Harris, Susan A. Carlson and Janet E. Fulton

Background:

There is little information on national estimates for participation in types of aerobic activities among U.S. adults. Current estimates are important to develop appropriate and effective interventions to promote physical activity and interpret bias for some activities measured with devices.

Methods:

The percentage of adults participating in specific aerobic activities was estimated overall and by demographic subgroups. The 2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System respondents (N = 446,216) reported up to 2 aerobic activities they spent the most time doing during the past month.

Results:

Overall, walking (47%) was the most common activity reported and was reported more by women (54%) than men (41%). Participation in most activities declined with increasing age (P < .006). There were a number of differences in participation between race/ethnic subgroups. Participation increased with more education (P for trend < 0.006) for all activities. Participation in most activities was different (P < .002) across BMI subgroups.

Conclusions:

Walking is the most common activity, overall and among most subgroups. Other activity profiles differ by demographic subgroup. Physical activity promotion strategies that focus on identifying and addressing personal and environmental barriers and understanding demographic subgroup differences could lead to more tailored interventions and public health programs.

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Kathleen B. Watson, Susan A. Carlson, Tiffany Humbert-Rico, Dianna D. Carroll and Janet E. Fulton

Background:

Less than one-third of U.S. adults walk for transportation. Public health strategies to increase transportation walking would benefit from knowing what adults think is a reasonable distance to walk. Our purpose was to determine 1) what adults think is a reasonable distance and amount of time to walk and 2) whether there were differences in minutes spent transportation walking by what adults think is reasonable.

Methods:

Analyses used a cross-sectional nationwide adult sample (n = 3653) participating in the 2010 Summer ConsumerStyles mail survey.

Results:

Most adults (> 90%) think transportation walking is reasonable. However, less than half (43%) think walking a mile or more or for 20 minutes or more is reasonable. What adults think is reasonable is similar across most demographic subgroups, except for older adults (≥ 65 years) who think shorter distances and times are reasonable. Trend analysis that adjust for demographic characteristics indicates adults who think longer distances and times are reasonable walk more.

Conclusions:

Walking for short distances is acceptable to most U.S. adults. Public health programs designed to encourage longer distance trips may wish to improve supports for transportation walking to make walking longer distances seem easier and more acceptable to most U.S. adults.