ACE Exclusive Study Examines On-The-Job Physical Activity of 10 Common Occupations

Posted: Jan 26, 2007 in

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Jan. 29, 2007) – The American Council on Exercise (ACE), America’s Authority on Fitness, recently released results of its exclusive study that examined on-the-job physical activity of 10 common occupations. Based on Shape Up America’s physical activity recommendations in their 10,000 steps program, ACE commissioned researchers at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse to measure the amount of workday physical activity one can expect from a variety of common occupations.

Led by John Porcari, Ph.D. and Reem Akhwan, M.A., the researchers recruited 98 volunteers from businesses in the La Crosse area. The volunteers represented 10 different occupations including secretaries, restaurant servers, construction workers, mail carriers, custodians, lawyers, police officers, nurses, teachers and factory workers.

“Many people have misconceptions about how much they move over the course of a normal day,” said Dr. Cedric Bryant, Ph.D., F.A.C.S.M., chief science officer for the American Council on Exercise. “We wanted to raise the awareness level of how much individuals actually move and provide them with feedback that might encourage them to move more.”

Each participant was assigned a basic pedometer and asked to wear it during work hours for three consecutive days. The subjects went about their work days as usual. At the end of the days, they completed a daily log recording to the number of steps taken, total distance covered, and a brief description of the duties they performed on that day.

Researchers found that secretaries, teachers, lawyers and police officers walked significantly fewer steps and less distance than other occupations. At the low end, secretaries were observed to walk only an average of 4,327 steps (or the equivalent of 1.7 total miles). On the other end of the spectrum, custodians and mail carriers accumulated significantly more daily steps and mileage, with mail carriers topping the list at 18,904 daily steps (or approximately 7.5 miles); nearly double Shape Up America’s minimum recommendation.

With a huge difference in the number of steps taken by all occupations, results show that workplace physical activity varies widely among most occupations.

“Americans out there who aren’t in very active jobs, like the typical office worker, need to get some kind of supplemental physical activity,’ said Bryant. “They need to be more mindful and thoughtful of how to add movement to their daily lives.”

Minor lifestyle adjustments can individuals help meet the 10,000 step goal including; taking the stairs rather than the elevator, going for a walk at lunch, walking the course rather using a golf cart and deliver documents or messages to colleague’s in person rather than by email or phone.

For a complete summary of the research findings see the July/August 2006 issue of ACE Fitness Matters or online at


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