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Prev Med. 2002 Feb;34(2):179-86.

Physical activity and ethnic differences in hypertension prevalence in the United States.

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Department of Exercise Science and Sport Management, University of Tennessee at Knoxville, 1914 Andy Holt Avenue, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA.



In the United States, non-Hispanic blacks have higher rates of hypertension than other ethnic groups. In addition, they have higher rates of physical inactivity, a behavior linked to high blood pressure. We examined associations between ethnicity, leisure-time physical activity (LTPA), and hypertension prevalence in a representative sample of U.S. adults.


Using data on 16,246 adults in the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, hypertension prevalence was determined for non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, and Mexican Americans at various levels of LTPA (none, 0.1-4.9 bouts/week at any intensity, 5+ bouts/week of moderate-to-vigorous activity). Logistic regression was used to examine relationships between hypertension prevalence, race, LTPA, and other variables.


Hypertension prevalence was significantly less in the most active group, compared with their sedentary peers (odds ratio = 0.73, CI 0.59 to 0.90). Blacks had an odds ratio for hypertension of 1.77 (CI 1.49 to 2.10) compared with non-Hispanic whites, after adjusting for gender, age, income, LTPA, smoking, BMI, salt intake, rural/urban dwelling, and alcohol intake. Mexican Americans had an adjusted odds ratio of 0.75 (CI 0.62 to 0.89), relative to non-Hispanic whites.


Ethnicity and LTPA are both associated with hypertension prevalence after controlling for each other, as well as other confounders. Thus, race and physical activity are important independent contributors to hypertension prevalence.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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