Non-exercise physical activity in agricultural and urban people

James A. Levine, Shelly K. McCrady, Sandra Boyne, Joanne Smith, Kathryn Cargill, Terrence Forrester

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


With evidence that urbanisation is associated with obesity, diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease, this article compares daily physical activity between rural and urban dwellers. Specifically, it examines habitual daily activity levels, non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) and energy expenditure in agricultural and urban Jamaicans and urban North Americans. Ambulation was 60 per cent greater in rural Jamaicans than in the urban dwellers (4675 ± 2261 versus 2940 ± 1120 ambulation-attributed arbitrary units (AU)/day; P = 0.001). Levels of ambulation in lean urban Jamaicans were similar to those in lean urban North Americans, whereas obese urban dwellers walked less than their lean urban counterparts (2198 ± 516 versus 2793 ± 774 AU/day; P = 0.01). The data with respect to daily sitting mirrored the walking data; obese Americans sat for almost four hours more each day than rural Jamaicans (562 ± 78 versus 336 ± 68 minutes/day; P < 0.001). Urbanisation is associated with low levels of daily activity and NEAT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2417-2427
Number of pages11
JournalUrban Studies
Issue number11
StatePublished - Aug 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Urban Studies


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