Women workers and women at home are equally inactive: NHANES 2003-2006

Jeremy A. Steeves, Rachel A. Murphy, Vadim Zipunnikov, Scott J. Strath, Tamara B. Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Purpose: The prevalence of female homemakers (those who stay at home to care for the home or family) has increased to 29%. Homemakers may be more active than employed women (EW). Limited data are available for domestic-related activity; therefore, the assessment of the activity levels of homemakers has been sparse. This study compared objectively measured activity (total activity counts, counts per minute, and percent time in various activity intensity levels) of homemakers and EW. Methods: Women's (18-60 yr) accelerometer data from the 2003-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey were analyzed in 2014 (n = 1763). Daily (hour-by-hour) profiles of activity were compared between homemakers and EW. Results: Women spent most of their day in sedentary (∼55%) and light (∼32%) activity, with limited lifestyle (∼11%) and moderate vigorous physical activity (MVPA; ∼2%); and there were no differences between the homemakers and EW. Hour-by-hour analysis showed that the homemakers had more light and less sedentary activity than EW during the afternoon (P < 0.002), whereas EW had more MVPA at times corresponding to commuting to and from work and midday (P < 0.002). On weekdays, EW initiated activity earlier than homemakers but not on weekends. On weekends, both groups had less MVPA than weekdays. Employed women with child(ren) younger than 18 yr had greater counts per minute and lifestyle activity and less sedentary activity than EW without child(ren) younger than 18 yr. Conclusion: Our hourly analysis delineated important differences in activity between the groups. Homemakers accumulate enough light activity throughout the day to be as active as EW who are highly sedentary during the workday, but seem to acquire activity through commuting. Interventions to reduce sedentary behavior and increase activity are highly desirable and should take into consideration the temporality of homemakers and EW activity patterns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1635-1642
Number of pages8
JournalMedicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2015


  • Children
  • Employment
  • Female
  • Homemaker
  • Occupational activity
  • Physical activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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