Being physically active is one of the most important things people can do to improve their health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), regular physical activity can reduce the risk of chronic diseases, improve muscle and bone strength, improve mental health, and increase life expectancy.1 The 2017 Community Health Status Survey (CHSS) asked adults in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky several questions related to their own physical activity.
Adults in the region were asked to name their favorite activity and could give any answer. Walking was mentioned most often, by 3 in 10 adults (31%). Walking can be an easy way to increase physical activity because it does not require any special skills or facilities.
CHSS asked adults in the region how many days in the past week they walked for at least 10 minutes at a time. About 6 in 10 adults (57%) walked at least 10 minutes at a time every day. An additional 2 in 10 adults (20%) walked at least 10 minutes at a time between four and six days in the past week. Fifteen percent of adults walked 10 minutes at a time only one to three days, and nearly 1 in 10 adults (8%) reported that they did not walk 10 minutes at a time on any days.
Access to sidewalks influences physical activity, including the amount of time spent walking. Studies have shown that people are more likely to use sidewalks that are in good condition than sidewalks that are not.2 The 2017 CHSS asked adults in the region whether they agreed or disagreed with the following statement: “There are sidewalks or shoulders on streets in my community that allow for safe walking, jogging or biking.”
Seven in 10 adults in the region (73%) agreed with this statement. This percentage has remained relatively steady since 2010.
Adults living in the city of Cincinnati were more likely than those living in other regions, particularly parts of rural Ohio3, rural Kentucky4 and Indiana5, to report safe sidewalks or shoulders.
Long periods of time spent sitting, even when paired with moderate physical activity, can lead to poor health.6 Studies have indicated that sedentary behavior can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes.7 The 2017 CHSS asked adults in the region how many hours per day they usually spent sitting over the past week.
More than 2 in 10 adults in the region (25%) spend at least eight hours sitting each day. Fewer than 1 in 10 (9%) spend less than two hours per day sitting. Sitting for more than eight hours was more common among adults with a college degree (32%) than among adults with less education.
The 2017 CHSS incorporated the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ), short form. This form is designed to measure adults’ physical activity throughout the entire day. Adults are asked to report their level of activity over the past seven days in four categories: vigorous activity, moderate activity, walking and sitting.
Answers to these questions on the 2017 CHSS suggest that 6 in 10 adults in our region have high levels of activity (60%); 2 in 10 have moderate levels of activity (23%); and 2 in 10 have low levels of activity (17%). These results show more self-reported physical activity than is sometimes reported in our region. One possible reason for this is that measurements of physical activity often rely on self-reports of activity outside of working hours only. The IPAQ asks respondents to report about all activity, including at work, at home and at leisure. Using the IPAQ, a person could qualify as “moderately” or “highly” active because of the time they spend on their feet as part of their job, even if they have little or no activity outside the workplace. Measurements that rely only on non-work activity might consider this person to have a “low” level of activity.
This is the first time CHSS has incorporated this tool to measure physical activity. Additional research is required to better understand how we can use self-reported measures to explore physical activity levels in both work and non-work environments.
1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). Physical Activity and Health. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/index.htm.
2 Kwarteng, J. L., Schulz, A. J., Mentz, G. B., Zenk, S. N., & Opperman, A. A. (2013). Associations between Observed Neighborhood Characteristics and Physical Activity: Findings from a Multiethnic Urban Community. Journal of Public Health, 36(3), 358-367.
3 Adams, Brown, Clermont and Highland counties.
4 Bracken, Carroll, Gallatin, Owen and Pendleton counties.
5 Dearborn, Franklin, Ohio, Ripley and Switzerland counties.
6 Chau, J. Y., Grunseit, A. C., Chey, T., Stamatakis, E., Brown, W. J., Matthews, C. E., . . . Ploeg, H. P. (2013). Daily Sitting Time and All-Cause Mortality: A Meta-Analysis. PLoS ONE, 8(11). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0080000
7 Biswas, A., Oh, P. I., Faulkner, G. E., Bajaj, R. R., Silver, M. A., Mitchell, M. S., & Alter, D. A. (2015). Sedentary Time and Its Association with Risk for Disease Incidence, Mortality, and Hospitalization in Adults. Annals of Internal Medicine,162, 123-132.
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