Characteristics of inactive primary care patients: Baseline data from the activity counseling trial

Denise G. Simons-Morton, Patricia Hogan, Andrea L. Dunn, Leslie Pruitt, Abby C. King, Benjamin D. Levine, Stephen T. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Background. Although many primary care patients are inactive, being able to classify even small amounts and intensities of activity and factors associated with these activity levels could be helpful for physicians who are trying to motivate their patients to become more physically active. Methods. Sociodemographics, physical activity, fitness, other cardiovascular risk factors, and psychosocial measures were measured at baseline in the 874 patients in the Activity Counseling Trial. Patients were categorized into three groups: (1) no moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA), (2) some moderate but no vigorous activity, and (3) some vigorous activity. Multiple logistic regression was used to determine factors cross-sectionally associated with activity intensity. Results. One or more cardiovascular risk factors in addition to physical inactivity were present in 84% of participants, Maximal oxygen uptake averaged 25.2 ml/kg/min; 85% had poor to fair aerobic fitness. Physical activity averaged 32.7 kcal/kg/day, with 13.5 min of MVPA/day; 26% engaged in some vigorous activity, 11% engaged in no MVPA. In unadjusted analyses, gender, age, race, education, income, employment, smoking, alcohol use, and exercise self-efficacy were associated with activity intensity (P = 0.05-0.001). A greater percentage engaged in moderate than in vigorous activity in all subgroups. In multiple logistic regression analyses, odds ratios (95% confidence intervals) for engaging in vigorous activity were 0.39 (0.28, 0.56) for women, 0.38 (0.19, 0.75) for 65+ compared with 35- to 44-year-olds, and 1.14 (1.06, 1.22) for 10-unit increases in performance self-efficacy score. Conclusions. Most primary care patients who are physically inactive have additional cardiovascular risk factors, particularly overweight and obesity. All subgroups pursue moderate-intensity activity more often than vigorous activity. Women, older persons, and those with lower exercise self-efficacy are less likely to engage in vigorous activity. (C) 2000 American Health Foundation and Academic Press.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)513-521
Number of pages9
JournalPreventive Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2000


  • Exercise
  • Health behavior
  • Patient education
  • Physical activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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