Only 5% of Americans Engage in Vigorous Physical Activity on Any Given Day

Only 5% of Americans Engage in Vigorous Physical Activity on Any Given Day

ScienceDaily (Sep. 15, 2010) — On any given day, most U.S. adults report performing predominantly sedentary and light activities, according to a new study published in the October issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Overall only 5.07% report any vigorous intensity activity. The most frequently reported moderate activity was food and drink preparation.

In order to determine the 10 most frequently reported non-work and non-sleep activities by intensity reported by U.S. individuals, researchers from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, used data collected between 2003-2008 from close to 80,000 respondents to the American Time Use Survey (ATUS). This nationally representative telephone-based survey captures activities that people recall doing during the preceding 24 hours. These data were coupled with published Metabolic Equivalent (MET) intensity values in order to group activities into sedentary, light, moderate, and vigorous categories.

While most Americans engage in sedentary activities such as eating and drinking (95.6%), followed by watching television/movies (80.1%), and light activities such as washing, dressing, and grooming oneself (78.9%), and driving a car, truck, or motorcycle (71.4%), most did not engage in moderate or vigorous activities. The most frequently reported moderate activities were food and drink preparation (25.7%), followed by lawn, garden, and houseplant care (10.6%). The most frequently reported vigorous activities were using cardiovascular equipment (2.2%) and running (1.1%).

According to lead investigator Catrine Tudor-Locke, PhD, Director of the Walking Behavior Laboratory, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, “Knowing the most-frequently reported intensity-defined behaviors can inform intervention strategies aimed at improving energy balance or enhance questionnaire design by targeting queries related to time spent in such behaviors. As a single more-detailed example of utility, data can be collected using objective monitors under controlled conditions on these most-frequently reported sedentary behaviors and provide valuable calibration data useful for identifying and tracking sedentary behaviors in objectively monitored surveillance and intervention studies.”