Background: Adults in lower status occupations are at higher risk of premature cardiovascular disease, for which physical inactivity is a major risk factor. While lower rates of leisure-time physical activity have been found to be associated consistently with lower income and education levels, the association between occupational and home-based physical activity with membership of different occupational categories is not well understood.
Methods: An urban-representative population data set derived from a self-completion questionnaire was used to examine both self-reported leisure-time physical activity and a combined measure of occupational/home-based physical activity of adult less-skilled, skilled, and professional workers and homemakers (3795 males; 4140 females). chi(2) analyses, ANOVA, and logistic regressions were used to examine the associations between occupational group membership and physical activity.
Results: After adjustment for age, body mass index, education, country of birth, marital status, and smoking, less-skilled workers were less likely to report any form of leisure-time physical activity. However, occupational category was not a strong predictor of participation in combined vigorous occupational/home physical activity. Homemakers and those in lower status occupations were less likely to report participation in vigorous leisure-time physical activity sufficient for cardiorespiratory fitness. With the inclusion of time spent in combined vigorous occupational/home physical activity, there was no longer an association of activity with occupational status for males. However, for females the association remained.
Conclusions: The assessment of occupational and household physical activity in addition to leisure-time activity may be important for understanding associations between occupational categories, physical activity, and increased levels of health risk and for the development of physical activity promotion strategies.