U of MN study shows Twin Cities residents get exercise through personal lifestyle activities

Research shows physical activity in the workplace has dropped significantly

Twin Cities residents are getting the majority of their physical activity through personal lifestyle activities such as yardwork, cleaning, and leisure-time physical activities – such as walking, running, or biking, according to researchers at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health.

Research published in the September issue of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that Minnesotans in the Twin Cities metro area are expending a significantly greater amount of energy participating in moderately intense physical activities than they were five years ago. Of total lifestyle physical activity reported (yardwork, cleaning, plus leisure-time physical activity), 60 percent and 70 percent of energy expended for men and women, respectively, was spent in leisure-time physical activity. In the most recent survey, only 20 percent of women and 30 percent of men were meeting the one hour of physical activity a day recommended by the Institutes of Medicine to maintain weight and cardiovascular health.

The study also found that the percentage of Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area residents who sit for the majority of their work day increased from 57.4 percent to 71.2 percent since 1980, while the number of people who lift things frequently and walk more than a half mile to work dropped significantly.

"Physical activity has decreased over the past 20 years in the work place, which makes it more difficult for people to meet the recommendations for daily exercise," said Lyn Steffen, Ph.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of epidemiology and community health at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. "But, people can help fill the gap by participating in physical activities that are part of a daily routine, such as walking their dog, climbing steps, walking, yardwork, and cleaning."

The study is part of the Minnesota Heart Survey and was designed to assess time trends in physical activity participation. Five population-based surveys were conducted from 1980 to 2002 within the seven-county Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area. Participants were asked to answer questions regarding the duration and frequency of their participation in 63 listed activities.

"Although energy expenditure was lower than national recommendations and Body Mass Index (BMI) rates continued to increase in general over the past 20 years, BMI levels in active adults increased at a slower rate than less active adults," said Steffen. "Reengineering our culture and environment to include more physical activity opportunities in routine leisure, job, and transportation would facilitate healthy lifestyles."

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The study was sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health.


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