Physical Activity in an Old Order Amish Community

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Abstract

Purpose

The purposes of this study were to characterize the physical activity (PA) levels in an Old Order Amish farming community and to examine measures of adiposity in this group.

Methods

Ninety-eight Amish adults (18–75 yr of age) in southern Ontario were studied. Anthropometric variables included height, weight, body mass index (BMI), and percent body fat (% BF). Participants were asked to wear an electronic pedometer for 7 d and to fill out a log sheet on which they recorded steps per day and physical activities. After 1 wk, they returned the pedometers and log sheets and filled out the International Physical Activity Questionnaire.

Results

The average number of steps per day was 18,425 for men versus 14,196 for women (P < 0.05). Men reported 10.0 h·wk−1 of vigorous PA, 42.8 h·wk−1 of moderate PA, and 12.0 h·wk−1 of walking. Women reported 3.4 h·wk−1 of vigorous PA, 39.2 h·wk−1 of moderate PA, and 5.7 h·wk−1 of walking. Men had higher levels of energy expenditure than women (P < 0.001). A total of 25% of the men and 27% of the women were overweight (BMI ≥ 25), and 0% of the men and 9% of the women were obese (BMI ≥ 30).

Conclusions

The Amish we studied had very high levels of physical activity, which may contribute to their low prevalence of obesity. This group probably represents an upper extreme for “lifestyle PA” in North America today.

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