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Exercising choice: The economic determinants of physical activity behaviour of an employed population


  • Brown, Heather
  • Roberts, Jennifer


Lack of physical activity is a major contributing factor to the worldwide obesity epidemic, and to the overall burden of disease. The deindustrialisation of developed economies and move to more sedentary employment has impacted on the opportunities of working individuals to participate in physical activity. This can have negative effects on productivity and worker health potentially influencing economic growth. Thus, it is important to determine the factors influencing the frequency of participation in physical activity for employed individuals. This paper uses a modified time allocation framework to explore this issue. We use data from the first six waves of the Household Income and Labour Dynamics of Australia survey (HILDA). The analysis examines frequency of participation in physical activity using a generalised random effects ordered probit model. We control for non-parallel cut-points between the physical activity categories and individual heterogeneity, as well as exploring differences across gender. The results indicate that there is a time trade-off between non-market work, market work, and the frequency of physical activity participation. This effect is moderated by gender. For example, dependent children have a larger negative effect on the frequency of physical activity participation for women. Education and marriage have a larger negative effect on the frequency of participation for men. The findings suggests that policies which make exercise more convenient, and hence decrease the opportunity cost of exercise, will help to encourage more frequent participation in physical activity for working adults.

Suggested Citation

  • Brown, Heather & Roberts, Jennifer, 2011. "Exercising choice: The economic determinants of physical activity behaviour of an employed population," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 73(3), pages 383-390, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:73:y:2011:i:3:p:383-390

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Verbeek, Marno & Nijman, Theo, 1992. "Testing for Selectivity Bias in Panel Data Models," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 33(3), pages 681-703, August.
    2. Brad R. Humphreys & Jane E. Ruseski, 2007. "Participation In Physical Activity And Government Spending On Parks And Recreation," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 25(4), pages 538-552, October.
    3. Eberth, Barbara & Smith, Murray D., 2010. "Modelling the participation decision and duration of sporting activity in Scotland," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 822-834, July.
    4. Lisa Farrell & Michael A. Shields, 2002. "Investigating the economic and demographic determinants of sporting participation in England," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 165(2), pages 335-348.
    5. Mundlak, Yair, 1978. "On the Pooling of Time Series and Cross Section Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(1), pages 69-85, January.
    6. Paul Downward, 2007. "Exploring the Economic Choice to Participate in Sport: Results from the 2002 General Household Survey," International Review of Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 21(5), pages 633-653.
    7. Humphreys, Brad & Ruseski, Jane, 2009. "The Economics of Participation and Time Spent in Physical Activity," Working Papers 2009-9, University of Alberta, Department of Economics.
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    Cited by:

    1. Humphreys, Brad & Ruseski, Jane & Zhou, Li, 2015. "Physical Activity, Present Bias, and Habit Formation: Theory and Evidence from Longitudinal Data," Working Papers 2015-6, University of Alberta, Department of Economics.
    2. Fan, Wen & Lam, Jack & Moen, Phyllis & Kelly, Erin & King, Rosalind & McHale, Susan, 2015. "Constrained choices? Linking employees' and spouses' work time to health behaviors," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 126(C), pages 99-109.
    3. Sisira Sarma & Rose Anne Devlin & Jason Gilliland & Karen Campbell & Gregory Zaric, 2013. "The Effect of Leisure-time Physical Activity on Obesity, Diabetes, High BP and Heart Disease among Canadians: Evidence from 2000/01 to 2005/06," Working Papers 130001, Canadian Centre for Health Economics.
    4. Francisco Perales & Jesus del Pozo-Cruz & Borja del Pozo-Cruz, 2015. "Long-term dynamics in physical activity behaviour across the transition to parenthood," International Journal of Public Health, Springer;Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+), vol. 60(3), pages 301-308, March.
    5. Sarma, Sisira & Zaric, Gregory S. & Campbell, M. Karen & Gilliland, Jason, 2014. "The effect of physical activity on adult obesity: Evidence from the Canadian NPHS panel," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 14(C), pages 1-21.
    6. Hyytinen, Ari & Lahtonen, Jukka, 2013. "The effect of physical activity on long-term income," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 96(C), pages 129-137.
    7. Venn, Danielle & Strazdins, Lyndall, 2017. "Your money or your time? How both types of scarcity matter to physical activity and healthy eating," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 172(C), pages 98-106.
    8. Norwood, Patricia & Eberth, Barbara & Farrar, Shelley & Anable, Jillian & Ludbrook, Anne, 2014. "Active travel intervention and physical activity behaviour: An evaluation," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 50-58.
    9. Narimasa Kumagai & Seiritsu Ogura, 2014. "Persistence of physical activity in middle age: a nonlinear dynamic panel approach," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 15(7), pages 717-735, September.


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