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Associations in physical activity and sedentary behaviour among the immigrant and non-immigrant US population
  1. Heontae Kim1,
  2. Chao Cao2,
  3. Igor Grabovac3,
  4. Guillermo F López Sánchez4,
  5. Benny Rana5,
  6. Louis Jacob6,7,
  7. Ai Koyanagi7,8,
  8. Nicola Veronese9,
  9. Lin Yang5,10,
  10. Lee Smith11
  1. 1Research and Analytics Laboratory, School of Applied Sciences, University of Mississippi, University Park, Mississippi, USA
  2. 2Program in Physical Therapy, Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, Missouri, USA
  3. 3Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Center for Public Health, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
  4. 4Faculty of Sport Sciences, University of Murcia, Murcia, Spain
  5. 5Department of Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Research, Cancer Control Alberta, Alberta Health Services, Calgary, Canada
  6. 6Faculty of Medicine, University of Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines,Montigny-le-Bretonneux,France
  7. 7Research and Development Unit, Parc Sanitari Sant Joan De Déu, CIBERSAM, Barcelona, Spain
  8. 8ICREA, Pg. Lluis Companys 23, Barcelona, Spain
  9. 9Azienda ULSS 3 Serenissima, Primary Care Department, Venice, Italy
  10. 10Deparmtents of Oncology and Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada
  11. 11The Cambridge Centre for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Guillermo F López Sánchez, Faculty of Sport Sciences, University of Murcia, Murcia 30720, Spain; gfls{at} and Dr Lee Smith, The Cambridge Centre for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge CB1 1BT, UK; Lee.Smith{at}


Background Immigrants are at a higher risk of poor mental and physical health. Regular participation in physical activity (PA) and low levels of sedentary time are beneficial for both these aspects of health. The aim was to investigate levels and trends in domain-specific PA and sedentary behaviour in the US. immigrant compared with non-immigrant populations.

Methods From the 2007–2016 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a total of 25 142 adults (≥18 years) were included in this analysis. PA and sedentary behaviour time were assessed by a questionnaire.

Results Transit-related PA showed downward linear trends in young immigrant adults (ptrend=0.006) and middle-aged non-immigrant adults (ptrend=0.009). We found significant upward linear trends in sedentary behaviour for both immigrants and non-immigrants across all age groups. For sitting watching TV or videos ≥2 hours/day, there was a downward linear trend in young immigrant adults (ptrend=0.009). For computer use ≥1 hours/day, an upward linear trend in older non-immigrants was found (ptrend=0.024). Young immigrants spent 37.5 (95% CI −55.4 to −19.6) min less than non-immigrants on recreational PA per week. Also, older immigrants spent 23.5 (95% CI 1.5 to 45.6) and 22.5 (95% CI 5.9 to 39.0) min/week more than non-immigrants on recreational PA and transit-related PA, respectively. Last, young and middle-aged immigrants spent 37.6 (95% CI −68.2 to −7.0) and 37.6 (95% CI −99.7 to −9.7) min/day less than non-immigrants on sedentary behaviour, respectively.

Conclusion Overall, levels of recreational PA were stable, yet the transit-related PA declined coupled with an increase in sedentary behaviour. US. immigrants exhibit higher levels of transit-PA, lower levels of leisure-time PA and lower levels of sedentary behaviour, in some age groups.

  • Immigration
  • Physical activity
  • Sedentary

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  • Contributors All authors (HK, CC, IG, GFLS, BR, LJ, AK, NV, LY, LS) contributed planning, writing and revising this article. All authors are responsible for the overall content of this paper.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Data sharing statement All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.