Total and leisure-time walking among U.S. adults: Should every step count?

Janet H. Bates, Mary K. Serdula, Laura Kettel Khan, Deborah A. Jones, Cathleen Gillespie, Barbara E. Ainsworth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Background: Although walking is a popular leisure-time activity, a substantial amount of total daily walking occurs in nonleisure contexts (i.e., occupation, transportation, and household work). Because nonleisure walking is not assessed by traditional leisure-time activity surveys, total walking among U.S. adults may be underestimated. This study describes walking estimates obtained from a measure of leisure-time activity and a specific measure of total walking in all contexts. Methods: A national sample of adults (n=6626), selected by random-digit dialing, was surveyed between May 1999 and November 2000. Estimates of walking prevalence and of weekly time spent walking were examined from two separate modules: (1) an assessment restricted to leisure-time activity, and (2) an assessment of total walking. Results: Walking prevalence based on the total walking module was nearly double that based on the leisure-time module (81% vs 43%, respectively). The median weekly minutes of walking also nearly doubled using the total walking module (239 vs 130 minutes, respectively). Among those with jobs involving substantial walking, median weekly walking minutes were more than three times greater with the total walking module (476 vs 130 minutes, respectively). Conclusions: U.S. adults, particularly those with jobs involving walking, do a substantial amount of walking not captured by traditional leisure-time activity surveys. This may affect the appropriate targeting of physical activity interventions, as well as the evaluation of the effectiveness of physical activity promotions and policies. However, further characterization of nonleisure walking is needed to determine its contribution to health and meeting physical activity guidelines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)46-50
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Preventive Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Total and leisure-time walking among U.S. adults: Should every step count?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this