Gender and age differences in types of physical activity among US adults

Jessie X. Fan, University of Utah
Lori Kowaleski-Jones, University of Utah
Ming Wen, University of Utah

Past research has established that older people are less physically active than younger people, and that females are less active than males. However, it is not clear whether females and older people engage in different types of physical activity compared to males and younger people, or if they engage in the same types of physical activity, but with less time allocated to them. In this study we analyze data from 5,343 respondents age 25-64 from the NHANES 2003-2006 waves to answer this question. We create 17 physical activity categories, including (1)walking, (2) dancing and aerobics, (3) treadmill and stair climbing, (4) bicycling, (5) running and jogging, (6) team sports, (7) weight lifting, (8) yoga and stretching, (9) hiking, (10) swimming, (11) golfing, (12) fishing and hunting, (13) tennis and racquetball, (14) bowling, (15) other leisure PA, (16) domestic PA, and (17) transportation PA. Gender and age differences are assessed using Probit analyses on the probability of participating in each of the 17 PA categories, and using Tobit analyses on weekly minutes spent on each of the 17 PA categories. Our results show that females do engage in different types of physical activity compared to males, in that females are more likely to participate in and spend more time on walking, dancing/aerobics, treadmill/stair climbing, and yoga/stretching, while males are more likely to participate in and spend more time on golfing, team sports, fishing/hunting, and running/jogging, ceteris paribus. The gender neutral PA activities are hiking, swimming, bowling, and domestic PA. Holding other things equal, older people spend less time on most types of PA activities. The exceptions are time spent on biking, golfing, and fishing/hunting, which is not age-sensitive, and time spent on walking and domestic PA, which increases with age.

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Presented in Poster Session 1

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