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Res Q Exerc Sport. 2004 Sep;75(3):231-7.

American adults' knowledge of exercise recommendations.

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Department of Kinesiology, Health Promotion, and Recreation at the University of North Texas, Denton, 76203-0796, USA.


Physical inactivity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, and some cancers. Approximately 950,000 Americans die annually from cardiovascular diseases. The purpose of this study was to determine whether American adults know which traditional and lifestyle physical activities affect health and how they should be physically active to achieve a health benefit. Secondary purposes were to determine whether this knowledge is a function of gender, ethnicity, education, or age and if those who are sufficiently active for a health benefit possess different knowledge levels than those not sufficiently active for a health benefit. Items based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/American College of Sports Medicine principles included knowledge of exercise guidelines and traditional and lifestyle physical activities. This information was obtained from 20 questions that were part of a national random telephone survey of 2,002 American households in the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia. Respondents were most aware of traditional physical activities (M = 94%) that provide a health benefit and less aware of specific exercise guidelines (M = 68%) and lifestyle physical activities (M = 71%) that can result in a health benefit. Knowledge was not related to physical activity behavior sufficient for a health benefit and only slightly related to ethnicity, education, and age. These data suggest that physical activity knowledge alone is not sufficient to elicit a behavior; however, it provides educators with an understanding of the public's physical activity knowledge that could be helpful in developing health promotion and physical activity interventions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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