Frequently Reported Activities by Intensity for U.S. Adults

The American Time Use Survey


      Knowing the most-frequently reported physical activities can inform intervention strategies, enhance questionnaire design, and inform objective monitor calibration studies.


      To determine the 10 most-frequently reported nonwork and nonsleep activities by intensity (sedentary, light, moderate, vigorous) in American Time Use Survey (ATUS) adult respondents.


      The ATUS is a nationally representative telephone-based survey that captures activities that people recall doing during the preceding 24 hours. ATUS databases from 2003 to 2008 were combined and matched to previously published MET intensity values. Prevalences were rank ordered by weighted frequency within MET-defined intensity categories. Analyses took place in spring 2010.


      Data from 79,652 ATUS respondents, all aged ≥20 years, were considered. Overall, the most-frequently reported nonwork, nonsleep sedentary (1.0≤MET<1.6) behavior was eating and drinking (95.6%), followed by watching TV/movies (80.1%); the most-frequently reported light activities (1.6≤MET<3.0) were washing, dressing, and grooming oneself (78.9%), followed by driving a car, truck, or motorcycle (71.4%); the most-frequently reported moderate activities (3.0≤MET<6.0) were food and drink preparation (25.7%) followed by lawn, garden, and houseplant care (10.6%); and the most-frequently reported vigorous activities were using cardiovascular equipment (2.2%) and running (1.1%).


      On any given day, most U.S. adults reported performing predominantly sedentary and light activities. The greatest prevalence for reported moderate activities was food and drink preparation for both men (12.8%) and women (37.63%), and overall only 5.07% report any vigorous-intensity activity.
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        American Journal of Preventive MedicineVol. 41Issue 2
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          Tudor-Locke C, Johnson WD, Katzmarzyk PT. Frequently reported activities by intensity for U.S. adults: the American Time Use Survey. Am J Prev Med 2010;39(4):e13–e20.
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