Objectives: Few studies have described physical activity in rural populations. This study describes the frequency, types, and correlates of physical activity in 29,304 free-living adults in a rural county in New York State.
Methods: Self-reported responses about regular physical activity (maintained long enough to work up a sweat) were analyzed from a private household census of Otsego County with an 86.6% response rate.
Results: This survey categorized 46.2% of county residents as sedentary. Walking, the most frequent choice of activity (62% of the women, 36% of the men), increased in frequency with age of respondents whereas cycling, jogging, aerobics, team sports, and swimming (listed in rank order of frequency) generally tended to decrease in frequency with age. Farmers demonstrated an increased amount of "sweat activity" compared with persons in most other occupations.
Conclusions: This descriptive study of physical activity in a rural county shows that sedentary lifestyle is of high prevalence. The high frequency of walking and the gender differences in both the levels and choice of activity suggest that further research and public policy recommendations focus on these issues.