Objective: To evaluate the prevalence of recreational physical activity in middle-aged women and to identify characteristics predisposing women to an active or sedentary lifestyle.
Design: In this population-based survey study of 492 women aged 50-64 years, women were interviewed between 1988 and 1993 regarding their recreational exercise habits, other health habits, and medical history. Women were selected from the general population of western Washington State through random-digit-dialing of telephones. Physical activities in a recent 2-year period were recorded, including specific types, frequency, and duration of each activity.
Results: Fewer than half of the women reported doing any regular physical activity and only 27% engaged in any high intensity exercise. Obesity, current cigarette smoking, low income, low education, and some dietary factors were associated with a sedentary lifestyle.
Conclusions: These results suggest that only about half of middle-aged women engage in any regular recreational exercise, and that less than 25% follow the National Institutes of Health recommended guidelines for light to moderate exercise for at least 30 min per day, 6 days per week.