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

Background:

Previous studies have examined participation in specific leisure-time physical activities (PA) among US adults. The purpose of this study was to identify specific activities that contribute substantially to total volume of leisure-time PA in US adults.

Methods:

Proportion of total volume of leisure-time PA moderate-equivalent minutes attributable to 9 specific types of activities was estimated using self-reported data from 21,685 adult participants (≥ 18 years) in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999–2006.

Results:

Overall, walking (28%), sports (22%), and dancing (9%) contributed most to PA volume. Attributable proportion was higher among men than women for sports (30% vs. 11%) and higher among women than men for walking (36% vs. 23%), dancing (16% vs. 4%), and conditioning exercises (10% vs. 5%). The proportion was lower for walking, but higher for sports, among active adults than those insufficiently active and increased with age for walking. Compared with other racial/ethnic groups, the proportion was lower for sports among non-Hispanic white men and for dancing among non-Hispanic white women.

Conclusions:

Walking, sports, and dance account for the most activity time among US adults overall, yet some demographic variations exist. Strategies for PA promotion should be tailored to differences across population subgroups.