Non-exercise Physical Activity in Agricultural and Urban People


 With evidence that urbanisation is associated with obesity, diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease, this article compares daily physical activity between rural and urban dwellers. Specifically, it examines habitual daily activity levels, non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) and energy expenditure in agricultural and urban Jamaicans and urban North Americans. Ambulation was 60 per cent greater in rural Jamaicans than in the urban dwellers (4675 ± 2261 versus 2940 ± 1120 ambulation-attributed arbitrary units (AU)/day; P = 0.001). Levels of ambulation in lean urban Jamaicans were similar to those in lean urban North Americans, whereas obese urban dwellers walked less than their lean urban counterparts (2198 ± 516 versus 2793 ± 774 AU/day; P = 0.01). The data with respect to daily sitting mirrored the walking data; obese Americans sat for almost four hours more each day than rural Jamaicans (562 ± 78 versus 336 ± 68 minutes/day; P < 0.001). Urbanisation is associated with low levels of daily activity and NEAT.

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Levine JA, McCrady SK, Boyne S, Smith J, Cargill K, Forrester T.