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Higher education among American Indian elders increases their likelihood of engaging in physical activity

American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/ANs) report lower levels of leisure-time physical activity than majority populations. This lack of exercise puts them at risk for obesity, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, which are becoming more prevalent in many AI/AN communities. However, as with many other groups, more educated AI/AN elders have higher levels of physical activity than their less educated counterparts, finds a new study.

University of Washington researchers correlated education with physical activity level among 125 sedentary AI/AN elders (age 50 to 74 years) enrolled in a 6-week trial comparing 2 approaches to physical activity monitoring. They correlated educational level with total caloric expenditure for moderate-intensity physical activities (leisure, work, exercise, and chore-related) and distance traveled during a 6-minute walk test of fitness (6MWT).

Groups at different educational levels (less than high school, completed high school, General Education Degree or some vocational education, and college education) did not differ significantly in adjusted caloric expenditure due to all exercise activity. However, after controlling for relevant demographic and health factors, groups did differ significantly in caloric expenditure due to moderate to vigorous exercise, with the differences increasing significantly with higher levels of educational attainment. A similar significant positive trend was found between higher levels of education and increased distance covered during the 6MWT. The study was supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS10854).

See "Education is associated with physical activity among American Indian elders," by Craig N. Sawchuk, Ph.D., Andy Bogart, M.S., Stephen Charles, B.A., and others, in the American Indian Alaska Native Mental Health Research 15(1), p. 1-17, 2008.

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