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Cardiovascular Fitness Levels Among American Workers

Lewis, John E. PhD; Clark, John D. III MD, PhD; LeBlanc, William G. PhD; Fleming, Lora E. MD, PhD; Cabán-Martinez, Alberto J. MPH; Arheart, Kristopher L. EdD; Tannenbaum, Stacey L. PhD; Ocasio, Manuel A. BA; Davila, Evelyn P. PhD; Kachan, Diana BS; McCollister, Kathryn PhD; Dietz, Noella PhD; Bandiera, Frank C. MPH; Clarke, Tainya C. MPH; Lee, David J. PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: October 2011 - Volume 53 - Issue 10 - p 1115–1121
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31822cfe8e
Original Articles

Objective: To explore cardiovascular fitness in 40 occupations using a nationally representative sample of the US population.

Methods: Respondents aged 18 to 49 years (N = 3354) from the 1999 to 2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey were evaluated for cardiovascular fitness and classified into low, moderate, and high levels. Comparisons were made among occupations.

Results: Of all the US workers, 16% had low, 36% moderate, and 48% high cardiovascular fitness. Administrators, health occupations, wait staff, personal services, and agricultural occupations had a lesser percentage of workers with low cardiovascular fitness compared with all others. Sales workers, administrative support, and food preparers had a higher percentage of workers with low cardiovascular fitness compared with all others.

Conclusions: Cardiovascular fitness varies significantly across occupations, and those with limited physical activity have higher percentages of low cardiovascular fitness. Workplace strategies are needed to promote cardiovascular fitness among high-risk occupations.

From the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (Drs Lewis and Tannenbaum), and Department of Epidemiology and Public Health (Drs Clark, LeBlanc, Fleming, Arheart, Davila, McCollister, Dietz, and Lee, and Messrs Cabán-Martinez, Ocasio and Bandiera, Ms Kachan, and Ms Clarke) University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, Fla.

Address correspondence to: John E. Lewis, PhD, 1120 NW 14th St, Ste 1474 (D21), Miami, FL 33136; (

This work was funded, in part, by a grant from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (R01 OH03915).

J.E.L., J.D.C.III., W.G.L., L.E.F., A.J.C-M., K.L.A., S.L.T., M.A.O., E.P.D., D.K., K.M., N.D., F.C.B., T.C.C., and D.J.L., contributed to the design of the study. J.E.L., W.G.L., J.D.C.III., K.L.A., L.E.F., D.J.L., N.D., K.M., E.P.D., and A.J.C-M., and S.L.T., contributed to the writing of the article. W.G.L., K.L.A., J.D.C., J.E.L., L.E.F., D.J.L., and A.J.C-M. contributed to the analysis of the data. All the authors approved the final version of the manuscript.

©2011The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine