Background: Few studies in the US have assessed physical activity levels across worker groups, despite the increasingly sedentary milieu of contemporary US occupations and increasing obesity rates among US workers. The present study determined the proportion of US workers meeting the Healthy People 2010 Guidelines for leisure-time physical activity levels in major US occupational groups.
Methods: Self-reported leisure-time physical activity was defined as: a) light-moderate activity > or =30 min five or more times per week; and/or b) vigorous activity > or =20 min three or more times per week. Findings collected on over 150,000 US workers, who participated in the 1997-2004 National Health Interview Surveys, were stratified by occupational group.
Results: On average, the proportions of US workers meeting recommended leisure-time physical activity levels were 31% in female and 36% in male US workers. There was substantial variation in the gender-specific rates of leisure-time physical activity levels by occupation (range: 16-55%) with the lowest rates noted in blue collar groups.
Conclusions: Leisure-time physical activity levels were sub-optimal among all major US worker groups, with substantial variability across occupations. As part of disease prevention, health professionals should promote increased physical activity levels among those occupations identified with very low rates of leisure-time physical activity.