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Population Trends in Leisure-Time Physical Activity: Minnesota Heart Survey, 1980-2000


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: October 2006 - Volume 38 - Issue 10 - pp 1716-1723
doi: 10.1249/
BASIC SCIENCES: Epidemiology

Purpose: Twenty-year trends in lifestyle (leisure, household, and transportation related) physical activity and leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) were evaluated in the Minnesota Heart Survey (MHS), a population-based surveillance study to monitor trends in cardiovascular risk factor levels among residents of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area.

Methods: The Minnesota LTPA questionnaire was administered to adult participants in one of five cross-sectional MHS surveys conducted in 1980 (N = 1626), 1985 (N = 2292), 1990 (N = 2552), 1995 (N = 2432), and 2000 (N = 3089). Occupational activity was queried in 1980, 1995, and 2000. Age-adjusted, gender-specific geometric means of lifestyle physical activity and LTPA and of light-, moderate-, and vigorous-intensity activities were calculated for each survey. The proportion of adults participating in regular physical activity for 30 and 60 min·d−1 was reported.

Results: Male gender, younger age, higher educational status, and employment were characteristic of greater participation in physical activity. Daily energy expenditure from lifestyle physical activity and LTPA increased between 1980 and 2000 in both genders, and workplace activity decreased. Using direct questions, the prevalence of men and women participating in 30 or more minutes of physical activity at least five times per week ranged from 8 to 12%, with no time trend. Only 1% of participants participated 60 min daily. Overall, BMI was 1-2 kg·m−2 lower among individuals who participated regularly in physical activity.

Conclusions: Although energy expenditure was lower than national recommendations, greater physical activity was associated with lower body mass. Public health strategies are needed to facilitate participation in physical activity, especially for women, elderly, and less educated individuals.

1University of Minnesota School of Public Health, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, Minneapolis, MN; 2University of Alabama-Birmingham, School of Public Health, Birmingham, AL; and 3 University of Olso, Department of Nutrition, Oslo, NORWAY

Address for correspondence: Lyn M. Steffen, Ph.D., M.P.H., University of Minnesota School of Public Health, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, 1300 South Second St, Suite 300, Minneapolis, MN 55454; E-mail:

Submitted for publication October 2005.

Accepted for publication May 2006.

©2006The American College of Sports Medicine