A study of Brad Humphreys, an economics professor at the University of Alberta uncovered some definite trends and preferences when deciding how and if a person wants to be physically active. The study, which appears in Contemporary Economic Policy and was co-authored with U of A professor Jane Ruseski, looked at a wide range of factors, including income, education and ethnicity, that influence whether a person decides to be physically active, as well as their time spent being active.
It also examined the impact of government spending on parks and recreation on an individual's decision to participate in physical activity and sports.At a 57 per cent participation rate, walking was found to be the most common form of physical activity undertaken for exercise. Results suggested that participation in walking increases with age, indicating that programmes aimed at promoting walking for exercise could appeal to older populations, informed Prof Humphreys.
''Choosing walking as the main form of physical activity may reflect the relatively low cost of this activity. Walking can be done in almost any setting under almost any condition without needing specialised equipment or facilities,'' prof humphreys was quoted by science daily as saying.
The University of Alberta study, analysing a sample of over 275,000 individuals, found that participation in all types of physical activities increased when a person had a higher level of income and that people with a post-secondary education participated in outdoor recreation activities more than high school graduates.
As well, females were less likely to participate in outdoor recreation activities, group sports and individual sports than males, it added.
''Compared to men, we found that females spent an average of 444 minutes fewer per week doing outdoor recreation, 108 minutes fewer spent on group sports and 74 minutes fewer on individual sports,'' the professor said.