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

According to new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine

San Diego, CA, 15 September, 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.”

The article is “Frequently Reported Activities by Intensity for U.S. Adults: The American Time-Use Survey” by Catrine Tudor-Locke, PhD, William D Johnson, PhD, and Peter T Katzmarzyk, PhD. It appears in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Volume 39, Issue 4 (October 2010) published by Elsevier. DOI: 10.1016/j.amepre.2010.05.017

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Notes to Editors
Full text of the article is available to journalists upon request; contact To schedule an interview with the authors, please contact Catrine Tudor-Locke, PhD, FACSM, Director, Walking Behavior Laboratory, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, LA, tel: 225-763-2500; email:

About The American Journal of Preventive Medicine
The American Journal of Preventive Medicine ( is the official journal of The American College of Preventive Medicine and the Association for Prevention Teaching and Research. It publishes articles in the areas of prevention research, teaching, practice and policy. Original research is published on interventions aimed at the prevention of chronic and acute disease and the promotion of individual and community health. The journal features papers that address the primary and secondary prevention of important clinical, behavioral and public health issues such as injury and violence, infectious disease, women's health, smoking, sedentary behaviors and physical activity, nutrition, diabetes, obesity, and alcohol and drug abuse. Papers also address educational initiatives aimed at improving the ability of health professionals to provide effective clinical prevention and public health services. The journal also publishes official policy statements from the two co-sponsoring organizations, health services research pertinent to prevention and public health, review articles, media reviews, and editorials.

The American Journal of Preventive Medicine, with an Impact Factor of 4.235, is ranked 11th out of 122 Public, Environmental & Occupational Health titles and 16th out of 132 General and Internal Medicine titles according to the 2010 Journal Citation Reports© published by Thomson Reuters.

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