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VIG10FNO
Frequency of vigorous activity 10+ minutes: Number of units

Codes

VIG10FNO is a 3-digit-numeric variable.

000: Not in Universe
994: 994+
995: Never
996: Unable to do this activity
997: Unknown-refused
998: Unknown-not ascertained
999: Unknown-don't know

Description

VIG10FNO reports the frequency, in number of units, with which sample adults engaged in vigorous leisure-time physical activities for periods of at least 10 minutes. It must be interpreted in conjunction with the variable VIG10FTP, which reports the time period (e.g., per day, week, month, or year) corresponding to the number of units in VIG10FNO. For example, a respondent who runs once a day would have a VIG10FNO value of 1 (to indicate 1 time) and a VIG10FTP value of 2 (which is the code for "day").

VIG10FWK, a recoded variable created by the staff at the National Center for Health Statistics, draws upon the information in VIG10FTP and VIG10FNO and reports the frequency of vigorous leisure-time physical activities in terms of a single time unit, times per week.

According to the Field Representative's Manuals for 2001 forward, the maximum frequency of each broad category of physical activity was topcoded at 4 times per day (or its equivalent in some other time unit).

Definitions and Scope of Inquiry on Physical Activity, 1997 forward 

For 1997 forward, interviewers began the inquiry into adult leisure-time physical activity by stating, "The next questions are about physical activities (exercise, sports, physically active hobbies ...) that you may do in your leisure time." "Exercise, sports, [and] physically active hobbies" were to be respondent defined.

For each year, beginning in 1997, the survey collected information about sample adults' leisure time spent in "vigorous," "light or moderate," and "strengthening" physical activities. (See MOD10FNO and STRONGFNO for definitions of "light or moderate activity" and "strengthening activity".) In 2001, information was also collected on leisure time spent by sample adults in "stretching" activities. (See STRETCHFNO.) Strengthening and stretching exercises can be done at a pace that is either "vigorous" or "moderate," so exercise sessions involving strengthening and stretching overlap with vigorous and moderate exercise sessions.

For VIG10FNO, beginning in quarter 3 of 1997, sample adults were asked, "How often do you do vigorous leisure-time physical activities for at least 10 minutes that cause heavy sweating or large increases in breathing or heart rate?" The Field Representative's Manuals for 1997 forward provide examples of vigorous activities, although these examples were not routinely shared with respondents. These examples include fast walking, fast bicycling, jogging, strenuous swimming or sports play, vigorous aerobic dance, and strenuous gardening.

Rationale for and Use of Physical Activity Data 

The Field Representative's Manuals for 2001 forward noted that information about general health behaviors, including physical activity, "helps researchers measure how a person's daily habits affect his/her overall health." More specifically, according to the Manuals for 2002 forward, responses to the questions about leisure-time physical activity were used "for tracking Healthy People Objectives (22.1-22.4)."

For example, one such objective framed in terms of vigorous activity is increasing the proportion of adults who "engage in vigorous physical activity that promotes the development and maintenance of cardio respiratory fitness 3 or more days per week for 20 or more minutes per occasion."

Beginning in 2005, NHIS data on physical activity were also used in Health, United States to classify adults as "inactive," "with some leisure time activity," or "with regular leisure-time activity." This classification system is described in the Appendix of Health, United States for 2005 as follows:

Adults classified as inactive did not report any sessions of light/moderate or vigorous leisure-time physical activity of at least 10 minutes duration or reported that they were unable to perform leisure-time physical activity. Adults classified with some leisure-time activity reported at least one session of light/moderate or vigorous activity of at least 10 minutes duration but did not meet the requirement for regular leisure-time activity. Adults classified with regular leisure-time activity reported at least three sessions per week of vigorous leisure-time physical activity lasting at least 20 minutes in duration or at least 5 sessions per week of light/moderate physical activity lasting at least 30 minutes in duration.

Changes in Data Collection Beginning in 1997 

The National Health Interview Series first collected information on physical activity beginning in 1975. Prior to 1997, these inquiries generally focused on specific activities, such walking or playing baseball. (See the National Health Interview Survey's summary website on Adult Physical Activity Information in the NHIS for full details.)

The Survey Descriptions for 1997-2000 note that the physical activity questions included in the sample adult (core) module were "substantially different from those included in pre-1997 NHIS questionnaires."

Because of the large number of topic areas covered in the redesigned NHIS, only a brief set of leisure-time physical activity questions could be included in the Sample Adult Module. For this reason, the questions are general and lend themselves to broad classifications of activity levels.

The aforementioned website on "Adult Physical Activity Information in the NHIS" supplies the following background information on the development of these questions:

In 1997, as part of the National Health Interview Survey (core) questionnaire redesign, physical activity questions were included in the [core] questionnaire for the first time. Questions used in Australia, Finland, and Canada, as well as studies of older adults and youth in the United States, influenced the development of the NHIS Sample Adult annual physical activity questions. Question wording and response options were modified for use in the NHIS Sample Adult questionnaire, tested in the Questionnaire Design Research Laboratory (QDRL) of CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, and included in a field pretest. Decisions concerning question phrasing, reference period, and response options were based on results of cognitive testing and debriefing of interviewers after the pretest. Consistency with other parts of the National Health Interview Survey questionnaire was also considered. The final NHIS core physical activity questions consisted of asking frequency and duration of usual leisure-time vigorous and light-moderate activities and the frequency of strengthening activities.

Comparability

VIG10FNO is available beginning in quarter 3 of 1997. For data on the frequency of respondents' vigorous activity in the first half of 1997, see VIG20FNO2.

The question wording for VIG10FNO changed slightly in 2004.

 

For all years from 1997 forward, the survey section on physical activity began with the statement, "The next questions are about physical activities (exercise, sports, physically active hobbies ...) that you may do in your leisure time." Beginning in 2004, the question about the frequency of vigorous activities reiterated the point that respondents were only to report leisure-time activities. From 1997 through 2003, interviewers asked, "How often do you do vigorous activities ..."; for 2004 forward, they asked, "How often do you do vigorous leisure-time physical activities ..." Thus, beginning in 2004, the question wording made explicit what had previously been implicit and had been specified in the introductory statement only.

A second minor change to the survey question was instituted in 2000, when the form added the following instruction to interviewers: "If necessary, prompt with: How many times per day, per week, per month, or per year do you do these activities?" This prompt gave explicit directions to interviewers on how to proceed if respondents gave a vague answer such as "quite often," "once in a while," or "hardly ever."

 

However, while these directions were missing from the survey questionnaire before 1999, they were included in the Field Representative's Manuals for 1997-2000, which directed, "Prompt with 'How many times per day, per week, per month, or per year do you do these activities?'" Furthermore, the 1997-2000 Manuals stated, "Always probe for an exact number. If the Sample Adult reports a range or interval, assist the Sample Adult in making an estimate by probing. For example, you might ask 'Could you give me a more exact number?'"

Universe

  • 1997: Sample adults age 18+ in quarters 3 and 4.
  • 1998-2018: Sample adults age 18+.

Availability

  • 1997-2018

Weights