Background: Physical therapy practitioners are among the many health care professionals who can counsel their patients to address the public health care concern of physical inactivity. Health care providers who are physically active themselves are more likely to counsel patients on the benefits of activity.
Objective: The purposes of this study were: (1) to examine the leisure-time physical activity habits of physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and student physical therapists in the United States using Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and American College of Sports Medicine (CDC-ACSM) recommendations and (2) to compare these habits with those of the general population and other health care professionals.
Design: A cross-sectional survey design was used.
Methods: There were 2 data sources. A random sample of American Physical Therapy Association members completed an online survey that included questions about physical activity habits worded in same manner as the leisure-time activities section of the 2005 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). The final study sample comprised 1,238 participants: 923 physical therapists, 210 student physical therapists, and 105 physical therapist assistants. The 2005 NHIS public use data files were the source for the same information about the general US population and for a subset of health care professionals. Rates of participation in vigorous and moderate physical activity were analyzed.
Results: Physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and student physical therapists exercised at higher rates than adults and health-diagnosing professionals in the 2005 NHIS. Limitations The study may be limited by sampling and response bias.
Conclusions: This study identified that physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and student physical therapists are meeting CDC-ACSM physical activity guidelines at higher rates than the US adult population and health-diagnosing professionals. These rates exceed the physical activity targets set for adults in Healthy People 2010.