A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

CHSS: Walking is region’s most popular physical activity; too many of us just sit for hours a day

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For the 2017 Community Health Status Survey (CHSS), sponsored by Interact for Health, area adults were asked to name their favorite physical activity. Walking was mentioned most often, by 3 in 10 adults (31 percent).

“Being physically active is one of the most important things people can do to improve their health. Walking can be an easy way to increase physical activity, because it does not require any special skills or facilities,” said O’dell Moreno Owens, M.D., MPH, President/CEO of Interact for Health.

CHSS asked adults in the region how many days in the past week they walked for at least 10 minutes at a time. About 6 in 10 adults (57 percent) walked at least 10 minutes at a time every day; however, 1 in 10 adults (8 percent) reported that they did not walk 10 minutes at a time on any days.
 
Safe sidewalks and shoulders more available in some areas

Access to sidewalks influences physical activity and the amount of time spent walking.

Studies have shown that people are more likely to use sidewalks that are in good condition than sidewalks that are not. The 2017 CHSS asked adults in the region whether there were sidewalks or shoulders on streets in their community that allow for safe walking, jogging or biking. Seven in 10 adults in the region (73 percent) agreed with this statement. This percentage has remained relatively steady since 2010. Seventy-seven percent of adults in Boone, Campbell, Grant and Kenton counties agreed that they have sidewalks and shoulders safe for activity, compared to only 49 percent of adults in Bracken, Carroll, Gallatin, Owen and Pendleton counties.
 
Two in 10 adults sit for at least eight hours a day

“Long periods of time spent sitting, even when paired with moderate physical activity, can lead to poor health,” says Dr. Owens.

Studies have indicated that sedentary behavior can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes. The 2017 CHSS asked adults in the region how many hours per day they usually spent sitting over the past week.

More than 2 in 10 adults in the region (25 percent) spend at least eight hours sitting each day; nearly 3 in 10 adults (28 percent) in Boone, Campbell, Grant and Kenton counties report sitting at least eight hours a day, compared to 2 in 10 adults (19 percent) in Bracken, Carroll, Gallatin, Owen & Pendleton counties.

Measuring physical activity at work and at leisure

The 2017 CHSS incorporated the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ), short form. Adults are asked to report their level of activity over the past seven days in four categories: vigorous activity, moderate activity, walking and sitting.

Answers to these questions on the 2017 CHSS suggest that 6 in 10 adults in our region have high levels of activity (60 percent); 2 in 10 have moderate levels of activity (23 percent); and 2 in 10 have low levels of activity (17 percent). In Boone, Campbell, Grant and Kenton counties, 58 percent of adults reported high levels of activity, and 66 percent of adults in Bracken, Carroll, Gallatin, Owen and Pendleton counties reported high activity levels.

These results show more self-reported physical activity than is sometimes reported in our region. One possible reason is that measurements of physical activity often rely on self-reports of activity outside of working hours only. The IPAQ asks respondents to report about all activity, including at work, at home and at leisure.

Using the IPAQ, people could qualify as “moderately” or “highly” active because of the time they spend on their feet as part of their job, even if they have little or no activity outside the workplace.

This is the first time CHSS has incorporated this tool to measure physical activity. Additional research is required to better understand how we can use self-reported measures to explore physical activity levels in both work and non-work environments.

More information about Greater Cincinnati adults’ physical activity, and other topics, is available online.


 

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