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Catrine Tudor-Locke and Sandra A. Ham

Background:

We report walking for shopping, exercise, transportation, and walking the dog, among other sources captured in the 2003 to 2005 American Time Use Survey (ATUS).

Methods:

We extracted and analyzed 8 walking behaviors (by sex, age, education level, and race/ethnicity) from 24 hours of activities recalled by telephone interview for 15,175 males and 19,518 females age ≥15 years.

Results:

On any given day in 2003 to 2005, 45.8% of Americans participated in a median of 45 minutes of any walking activities; 31.6% walked for shopping purposes, 12.5% walked for transportation, 4.8% walked for exercise, and 2.5% walked the dog. College-educated respondents more commonly reported walking while shopping, walking for exercise, and dog walking. Those with less than a high school education more commonly reported walking for transportation.

Conclusions:

Despite limitations identified in imputing explicit and implicit performance of walking behaviors in the ATUS, Americans engage in a wide variety of walking behaviors that are not well represented by surveys focused only on leisure-time behaviors. Public health implications include increased availability of multiple and varied opportunities for walking, especially through environmental shifts toward more walkable places and destinations and policy shifts that support walking behaviors over competing transportation modes.

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Judy Kruger, Sandra A. Ham and Serena Sanker

Background:

Physical inactivity is associated with increased morbidity and mortality. This study provides prevalence estimates of inactivity by select characteristics among older adults.

Methods:

Respondents ≥50 years of age were selected from the 2005 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (N = 185,702).

Results:

Overall, 30.0% of older adults did not engage in leisure-time physical activity. Within each racial/ethnic group, the prevalence of inactivity was highest among Hispanic men (41.9%) and women (42.4%). Among men with and without disabilities, chronic disease conditions associated with inactivity were angina or coronary artery disease. Among women with disabilities, chronic disease conditions associated with inactivity were stroke and diabetes; among women without disabilities only diabetes was significantly associated with inactivity.

Conclusion:

Regular physical activity is an important means to maintaining independence, because it substantially reduces the risk for developing many diseases; contributes to healthy bones, muscles, and joints; and can reduce the risk for falling. Health care providers are encouraged to discuss concerns regarding physical activity with their patients.

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Sandra A. Ham, Judy Kruger and Catrine Tudor-Locke

Background:

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.

Methods:

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.

Results:

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.

Conclusions:

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

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Sandra A. Ham, Sarah Martin and Harold W. Kohl III

Background:

This report describes changes in the percentage of US students (age 5 to 18 years) who walked or bicycled to school and in the distance that they lived from or traveled to their school in 1969 and 2001 and travel patterns in 2001.

Methods:

Data were from the 1969 National Personal Transportation Survey report on school travel and the 2001 National Household Transportation Survey.

Results:

A smaller percentage of students lived within 1 mile of school in 2001 than in 1969. The percentage of students who walked or biked any distance decreased from 42.0% to 16.2%. Nearly half of students used more than 1 travel mode or went to an additional destination en route between home and school in 2001.

Conclusion:

Multidisciplinary efforts are needed to increase the percentage of students who walk or bike to school, as well as decrease the distances that students travel.

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Sandra A. Ham, Caroline A. Macera, Deborah A. Jones, Barbara E. Ainsworth and Kathleen M. Turczyn

Purpose:

To explore among demographic groups the differences in prevalence estimates of physical activity that may occur as a result of differences in survey design characteristics, including question wording, placement, and examples of activities.

Methods:

We compared responses to similar physical activity instruments administered to large samples of adults in 1999 (n = 9,775), 2000 (n = 32,374), and 1999–2000 (n = 7,529). The questions assessed participation in non-occupational physical activity at vigorous and moderate intensities. Surveys used in-person or telephone interviews.

Results:

The prevalence of recommended levels of physical activity (i.e., ≥3 days and ≥20 min vigorous activities or ≥5 days and ≥30 min moderate activities) varied 10% across 3 surveys. Although survey design characteristics varied, higher prevalence was associated with the use of examples to measure multiple domains of activity and question order.

Conclusions:

Measuring multiple domains is important for assessing health-related physical activity. These results suggest that physical activity measurement varies with question and survey design characteristics.

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Michelle M. Yore, Sandra A. Ham, Barbara E. Ainsworth, Caroline A. Macera, Deborah A. Jones and Harold W. Kohl III

Background:

In 2001, the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) included a new occupational physical activity (PA) question. This article evaluates the reliability of this survey question.

Methods:

Forty-six subjects were followed for 3 wk, answered 3 PA surveys by telephone, and completed daily PA logs for 1 wk. Kappa statistics determined the reliability of occupational activities (sitting/standing, walking, and heavy lifting). A descriptive analysis compared the time in specific occupational activities.

Results:

Eighty percent of the respondents reported “mostly sitting or standing” at work; and test–retest reliability was moderate (k = 0.40 to 0.45). The occupationally inactive sat/stood for 85% (mean hours = 5.6) of the workday, whereas the occupationally active sat/stood for 53% (mean hours = 3.9) of the workday.

Conclusions:

The BRFSS occupational activity question has moderate reliability, distinguishes between occupationally active and inactive persons, and can be used in surveillance systems to estimate adult occupational PA.