Physical Activity Levels Linked to Employment Status

Men's and women's exercise levels affected differently by being unemployed, study finds

TUESDAY, July 12 (HealthDay News) -- People's employment status has an impact on how physically active they are during the workweek, but men and women are affected differently, new research shows.

The study from the U.S. National Institute on Aging measured the levels of physical activity in people participating in the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which gathers data on about 5,000 people each year. Physical activity data was collected with the help of an accelerometer, a device worn around the waist that detects body movements and their intensity.

The investigators found that full-time employed men in either active or sedentary jobs were more active than healthy unemployed men during the work week. In comparison, women with sedentary jobs were less physically active Monday through Friday compared to unemployed women. These differences in activity levels between employed and unemployed people did not extend to weekends, the researchers noted.

The study authors also pointed out that, not surprisingly, working people with sedentary jobs were less active than those in more active professions. Gender, however, still played a role in this finding: 22 percent of the men and 30 percent of the women who held desk jobs were less active than those in more active positions.

As a result, the study authors concluded that people who are unemployed, particularly men, and those with sedentary jobs, particularly women, should take steps to become more physically active to reduce their risk of obesity, heart disease and high blood pressure. Moreover, exercise might boost morale among men who are job hunting.

Dane R. Van Domelen, post-baccalaureate fellow at the U.S. National Institute on Aging Laboratory of Epidemiology, Demography and Biometry, and colleagues published their findings in the July 12 online edition of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides more information on physical activity.

Mary Elizabeth Dallas SOURCE: U.S. National Institute on Aging, news release, July 12, 2011

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