Race/ethnicity, social class, and leisure-time physical inactivity

Simon J. Marshall, Deborah A. Jones, Barbara E. Ainsworth, Jared P. Reis, Susan S. Levy, Caroline A. Macera

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    234 Scopus citations


    PURPOSE: The aims of this study were to determine 1) prevalence of leisure-time physical inactivity in a nationally representative sample of non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, and Hispanic men and women; 2) prevalence of leisure-time inactivity by racial/ethnic group across social class indicators; and 3) the relationship between leisure-time inactivity and occupational physical activity, independent of other social class indicators. METHODS: The National Physical Activity and Weight Loss Survey was a telephone survey of noninstitutionalized U.S. adults (4695 men, 6516 women) conducted by random digit dialing between September and December 2002. Self-reported physical activity was assessed using questions from the 2001 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Respondents who reported no moderate- or vigorous-intensity physical activity during leisure time in a usual week were classified as inactive. Indicators of social class were education, family income, employment status, and marital status. RESULTS: Age-adjusted prevalence of leisure-time inactivity was 9.9% ± 0.6 SE (standard error) and 12.0 ± 0.6 for white men and women, respectively; 19.0 ± 2.5 and 25.2 ± 2.1 for non-Hispanic black men and women, and 20.9 ± 2.1 and 27.3 ± 2.5 for Hispanic men and women. Within each racial/ethnic group, prevalence of leisure-time inactivity was highest among participants of lower social class. Differences in inactivity by racial/ethnic group were less evident after adjustment for social class. Odds of inactivity were similar across quartiles of occupational physical activity after adjustment for age, sex, and social class. CONCLUSIONS: Non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanics were more inactive during their leisure time than were non-Hispanic whites. Social class but not occupational physical activity seems to moderate the relationship between race/ethnicity and leisure-time physical inactivity.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)44-51
    Number of pages8
    JournalMedicine and science in sports and exercise
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Jan 2007


    • Physical activity
    • Sedentary behavior
    • Self-report
    • Socioeconomic status
    • Surveillance surveys

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
    • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


    Dive into the research topics of 'Race/ethnicity, social class, and leisure-time physical inactivity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this