Muscle-strengthening activities and participation among adults in the United States

Res Q Exerc Sport. 2013 Mar;84(1):30-8. doi: 10.1080/02701367.2013.762289.


Purpose: To describe those who reported meeting the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (2008 Guidelines) muscle-strengthening standard of 2 or more days per week, including all seven muscle groups, and to assess the type and location of muscle-strengthening activities performed.

Method: Data from HealthStyles 2009, a cross-sectional, consumer mail-panel survey, was used for analyses (n = 4,271). The prevalence estimates with 95% confidence intervals of those meeting the 2008 Guidelines standards were calculated. Pairwise t-tests were performed to examine differences between estimates, tests for linear trends were performed among age, education, and body mass index (BMI) groups, and differences and trends were considered statistically significant at p < .05.

Results: Overall, 6.0% of participants reported meeting 2008 Guidelines, and there were no significant differences between sex and racial/ethnic groups. A significant linear increase was noted among education groups, with respondents who reported lower levels of educational attainment having lower levels of participation compared with respondents who reported higher levels of educational attainment. A significant linear decrease was noted among each BMI group, with those classified as underweight/normal reporting higher levels of participation, compared with those classified as obese. Free weights and calisthenics were the most common types of activities; the home was the most common location.

Conclusions: Few adults reported meeting current muscle-strengthening standards. Future public health efforts to increase participation should use the most frequently reported type and location of muscle-strengthening activities outlined in this study to guide interventions and communication campaigns.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Guideline Adherence
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Strength / physiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States