Self-reported physical activity levels among women over age 40 in a suburban community
The purpose of this study was to determine the self-reported physical activity levels of women over the age of 40 years residing in a suburban community. This research utilized a cross-sectional design to investigate the percentage of women currently (1) meeting the U.S. Surgeon General's guidelines for moderate physical activity, (2) meeting the ACSM guidelines for vigorous physical activity, (3) participating in recent leisure-time physical activity, and (4) participating in strengthening activities. In addition, differences based on physical activity levels were explored within the independent variables of recent leisure-time physical activity participation, strengthening activity participation, age, annual household income, educational level, marital status, child status, work status, work hours, and employer incentives for physical activity. Quantitative data were gathered anonymously through self-selected completion of a modified version of the Godin Leisure-Time Exercise Questionnaire. Questionnaires were distributed to all households (N = 4,862) in a particular suburban, New England community through the local town newspaper. A total of 377 women over the age of 40 years participated in the study by completing and returning their questionnaires. Epi Info software was used for data analysis. The results of this study revealed that 53.9% of the women in the sample population reported physical activity levels that classified them as sedentary, 30.5% met the U.S. Surgeon General's guidelines for moderate physical activity, and 15.6% exceeded this recommendation and met the ACSM guidelines for vigorous physical activity. A total of 30.2% reported participation in strengthening activities. Significant differences were found in recent leisure-time physical activity participation and strengthening activity participation based on physical activity levels. Significant differences based on physical activity levels were also found among women of different age groups, annual household income levels, marital status, and work status. Younger women, women with higher household incomes, married women, and working women were more likely to be vigorously active than their counterparts.