Regular physical activity is a key way to prevent disease. However, we have a limited understanding of the socioeconomic precursors and glucoregulatory sequelae of engaging in physical activity in different domains.
We examined the associations among life course socioeconomic disadvantage; meeting the physical activity guidelines with leisure-time physical activity, occupational physical activity, or household physical activity; and prediabetes and diabetes in the Midlife in the United States national study (N = 986).
Childhood disadvantage was associated with lower odds of meeting the guidelines with leisure-time physical activity (odds ratio = 0.75; 95% confidence interval, 0.65–0.86). Adulthood disadvantage was associated with higher odds of meeting the guidelines with occupational physical activity (odds ratio = 1.94; 95% confidence interval, 1.49–2.53). Importantly, while meeting the guidelines with leisure-time physical activity was associated with lower odds of prediabetes and diabetes, we found no evidence for associations among occupational physical activity, household physical activity, and glucoregulation.
Current US physical activity guidelines do not differentiate between physical activity for leisure or work, assuming that physical activity in any domain confers comparable health benefits. We documented important differences in the associations among lifetime socioeconomic disadvantage, physical activity domain, and diabetes, suggesting that physical activity domain potentially belongs in the guidelines, similar to other characteristics of activity (eg, type, intensity).