Purpose: Accumulation of physical activity throughout the day is recommended to reduce health risks and enhance quality of life. Yet, many epidemiologic studies measure leisure activity only, without assessment of occupational activity. The purposes of this study were to describe occupational activity and to quantify the association between occupational and leisure activity in 2991 African American and 8566 White middle-aged adults.
Methods: Physical activity was measured by the Baecke questionnaire in 1987-89 for participants 45 to 64 years of age in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study.
Results: Reported occupational activity was greater among African American men and women compared to White men and women. Leisure activity was greater among White men and women compared to African American men and women. Work indices (range-1 (low) to 5 (high)) were highest among African American women (2.78) and men (2.72), followed by White men (2.55) and women (2.45), adjusted for age, study center, body mass index, and perceived health status. Those with the highest occupational activity had lower participation in any sport or exercise than those with lower occupational activity across race-gender groups.
Conclusions: This data suggests that studies relying solely on leisure activity may miss important information provided by occupational physical activity.