EXERCISE: Study Shows Some Groups Just Don’t Do It
Blue-collar workers, homemakers and minorities are less likely to exercise than wealthy, white males, a new study reports. Researcher Carlos Crespo of American University and colleagues analyzed 1988-1994 data on the physical activity habits of 18,825 participants in the government's third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III). Researchers found that 23% of American adults "did absolutely no leisure-time physical activity" -- a figure that includes 47% of homemakers and 40% of blue-collar workers. Crespo hypothesizes that these findings, published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, are partly due to economic differences. He explains that those with low-incomes have less free time and "more pressing needs for their scarce money." Further, lower-income neighborhoods may not be safe enough for outdoor activities. A separate analysis of the same data, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine revealed a breakdown along ethic lines. In that study, 40% of Mexican Americans and 35% of African Americans did no exercise in their free time, compared to 18% of Caucasians, despite similar educational and financial levels. Crespo, who also conducted the second analysis, believes the disparity is due to cultural differences and the failure of certain activities to appeal to these populations. Also, minorities may place less value on exercise than do white Americans. Various health club chains and health organizations are now working to target these groups to increase their participation in physical activities by offering lower-cost health club memberships and revamping advertising to be inclusive of minority groups (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 1/23).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.