Patterns of objectively measured physical activity in the United States

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2008 Apr;40(4):630-8. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181620ebc.


Purpose: We used latent class analysis (LCA) to assess patterns of physical activity among adults, using the 7 d of accelerometer data from the 2003-2004 NHANES.

Methods: For each participant, we determined the daily minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA), vigorous physical activity (VPA), and minutes of MVPA that occurred in bouts of 10 min. Participants were then categorized into patterns of activity, using LCA and adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics.

Results: For overall MVPA, five classes of physical activity were defined, including two least active classes, which averaged less than 25 min of MVPA per day and represented 78.7% of the total study population. The most active class averaged 134 min of MVPA per day and comprised 0.9% of the population. The results for bout minutes of MVPA were similar to the patterns produced for overall MVPA, with the exception of a "weekend warrior" class with moderate levels of physical activity Monday through Friday but with a much higher level of activity on the weekend, particularly on Sunday. This class represented 1.8% of the population. Only 1.4% of all days achieved 10 min or more of VPA, and in 91.1% of all days, participants accumulated less than 1 min of VPA. The LCA analysis of VPA did not produce stable results, because of the small number of participants registering any minutes of VPA.

Conclusion: Our results indicate that a very large portion of the U.S. population may be classified into patterns of physical activity that represent low levels of MVPA throughout the week. The LCA analysis provided a novel approach for assessing patterns of objectively measured physical activity in epidemiologic studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acceleration
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity*
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Physical Fitness
  • Pilot Projects
  • United States