Cross-sectional associations of active transport, employment status and objectively measured physical activity: analyses from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

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Abstract

Background

To investigate associations between active transport, employment status and objectively measured moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) in a representative sample of US adults.

Methods

Cross-sectional analyses of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. A total of 5180 adults (50.2 years old, 49.0% men) were classified by levels of active transportation and employment status. Outcome measure was weekly time spent in MVPA as recorded by the Actigraph accelerometer. Associations between active transport, employment status and objectively measured MVPA were examined using multivariable linear regression models adjusted for age, body mass index, race and ethnicity, education level, marital status, smoking status, working hour duration (among the employed only) and self-reported leisure time physical activity.

Results

Patterns of active transport were similar between the employed (n=2897) and unemployed (n=2283), such that 76.0% employed and 77.5% unemployed engaged in no active transport. For employed adults, those engaging in high levels of active transport (≥90 min/week) had higher amount of MVPA than those who did not engage in active transport. This translated to 40.8 (95% CI 15.7 to 65.9) additional minutes MVPA per week in men and 57.9 (95% CI 32.1 to 83.7) additional minutes MVPA per week in women. Among the unemployed adults, higher levels of active transport were associated with more MVPA among men (44.8 min/week MVPA, 95% CI 9.2 to 80.5) only.

Conclusions

Findings from the present study support interventions to promote active transport to increase population level physical activity. Additional strategies are likely required to promote physical activity among unemployed women.

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