Targeting physical activity interventions for adults: When should intervention occur?

Prev Med. 2017 Apr:97:13-18. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2016.12.036. Epub 2016 Dec 23.


Understanding demographic differences in transitions across physical activity (PA) levels is important for informing PA-promoting interventions, yet few studies have examined these transitions in contemporary multi-ethnic adult populations. We estimated age-, race/ethnicity-, and sex-specific 1-year net transition probabilities (NTPs) for National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2007-2012, n=11,556) and Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (2008-2011, n=15,585) adult participants using novel Markov-type state transition models developed for cross-sectional data. Among populations with ideal PA (≥150min/week; ranging from 56% (non-Hispanic black females) to 88% (non-Hispanic white males) at age 20), NTPs to intermediate PA (>0-<149min/week) generally increased with age, particularly for non-Hispanic black females for whom a net 0.0% (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.0, 0.2) transitioned from ideal to intermediate PA at age 20; by age 70, the NTP rose to 3.6% (95% CI: 2.3, 4.8). Heterogeneity in intermediate to poor (0min/week) PA NTPs also was observed, with NTPs peaking at age 20 for Hispanic/Latino males and females [age 20 NTP=3.7% (95% CI: 2.0, 5.5) for females and 5.0% (1.2, 8.7) for males], but increasing throughout adulthood for non-Hispanic blacks and whites [e.g. age 70 NTP=7.8% (95% CI: 6.1, 9.6%) for black females and 8.1% (4.7, 11.6) for black males]. Demographic differences in PA net transitions across adulthood justify further development of tailored interventions. However, innovative efforts may be required for populations in which large proportions have already transitioned from ideal PA by early adulthood.

Keywords: Minority health; Physical activity; Population-based planning.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Ethnicity / statistics & numerical data*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minority Health*
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Racial Groups
  • Sex Factors