Leisure time physical activity

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Learn more about the measures of leisure time physical activity across selected CLOSER studies

For background detail on this domain of physical activity, click here.

Leisure time physical activity (LTPA) is the most frequently measured domain across the studies covered by this guide, with data collected at ages ranging from 4-69y across ALSPAC, MCS, BCS70, NCDS, and NSHD. For exercise-related questions, participants were often asked to indicate from a show card what activities they typically engaged in, and the duration and frequency of these. Additional LTPA questions captured participation in sports classes, involvement in sports clubs and teams, and use of recreational areas such as parks and playgrounds.

Click to see the cross-study data availability and comparability for each LTPA subdomain:


Leisure time physical activity participation

ALSPAC 13y and BCS70 16y ask similar questions about sports engagement over the past weekend (ALSPAC: “Which activities did you do last weekend?”; BCS70: “Did you take any exercise last Saturday?”) with responses comparable on the activities engaged in (i.e. swimming, cycling, walking). These may therefore be comparable in terms of absolute physical activity levels. Since the MCS 14y question was on a different scale, it is only likely comparable in terms of relative ranking of activity levels (MCS: “On how many days in the last week did you do a total of at least an hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity?”).

BCS70 30y, NSHD 31y, and NCDS 33y ask similar questions on general physical activity engagement (BCS70/NCDS: “Do you regularly take part in exercise/sport activities?” How often do you take part in these exercise/sports activities? When you take part in these exercise/sports activities, do you get out of breath or sweaty?; NSHD: “Please ring the codes below indicating any sports or keep fit activities you take part in and showing how often you do these things (during the season).”) with responses of frequency (monthly/weekly) and specific activities engaged in comparable across measures.

NCDS 42y and NSHD 43y each ask similar questions on general LTPA engagement (NCDS: “Do you regularly take part in exercise/sport activities?” How often do you take part in these exercise/sports activities? When you take part in these exercise/sports activities, do you get out of breath or sweaty?”; NSHD: “Do you regularly take part in any sports or vigorous leisure activities or do any exercises? (If yes please list) “How often do you do this? On average how long do you spend doing this?”) with responses of frequency (monthly/weekly) and intensity of specific activity engaged in comparable across measures. In contrast, BCS70 42y also asks a general question on LTPA engagement, but uses a different question and response scale (BCS70: “On how many days in a typical week do you do 30 minutes or more of exercise”; responses: none, less often, 2-3x month, 1x week, 1x week, 2-3x week, 4-5x week, daily).

BCS70 42y and NCDS 44y ask similar questions on specific activities in the past year (BCS70: “How often have you done each of the following sporting activities in the last 12 months?”; NCDS: “How often on average, did you do this last year?” “Average time per episode?”) with responses of frequency (monthly/weekly/daily) and specific activities engaged in comparable across measures.

NSHD 53y and NCDS 55y ask similar questions comparing the frequency (occurrences/week) of physical activity (NSHD: “In the last 4 weeks, have you taken part in any sports or vigorous leisure activities or done any exercises in your spare time, not including getting to and from work, for 30 minutes or more?”; NCDS: “Whether you take part in the following activities and frequently 1) Play sport or go walking or swimming; 2) Attend leisure activity groups such as evening classes, keep fit, yoga etc.”).

AgeStudyVariable name(s)Question wordingResponse scale(s)Included activitiesTimespan of recall
13ALSPACccp430 ccp450 - ccp443 ccp463"Which activities did you do last weekend?"yes/noswimming, walk, cycled, played in football (or other) matchpast weekend
14MCSFCPHEX00"On how many days in the last week did you do a total of at least an hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity?"never, 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, everyday*past week
16BCS70F20A1 - f20b43"In past year, participation in a range of individual activities, in school or out of school…"none, 1x monthly, 1x weeklybaseball, basketball, cricket, football, hockey, netball, rounders, rugby, volleyball, individual activities (aerobics, tennis etc.), otherpast 12 months
16BCS70jc22 - jc22a9"Did you take any exercise last Saturday?"yes/nowalking >1 mile, running, jogging >1 mile, cycling >1mile, swimming >4 lengths, dancing, indoor sports, outdoor sports, exercise/keep fit, otherlast Saturday
30BCS70exercise breathls sweat"Do you regularly take part in exercise/sport activities?" How often do you take part in these exercise/sports activities? When you take part in these exercise/sports activities, do you get out of breath or sweaty? never, 2-3x month, 1x week, 2-3x week, 4-5x week, daily take part in competitive sport of any kind, go to ‘keep fit’ or aerobics classes, go running or jogging, go swimming, go cycling, go for walks, take part in water sports, take part in outdoor sports, go dancing, take part in any other sport or leisure activity which involves physical exercisenot specified
31NSHDSWIM77 CYCL77 SQUAS77 KFIT77 OACTS77"Please ring the codes below indicating any sports or keep fit activities you take part in and showing how often you do these things (during the season)."never, several times a year, 1x month, 1x weekswimming, cycling, squash/tennis/badminton, keep fit, othernot specified
33NCDSN504362 N504363"Do you regularly take part in exercise/sport activities?" How often do you take part in these exercise/sports activities? When you take part in these exercise/sports activities, do you get out of breath or sweaty? never, 2-3x month, 1x week, 2-3x week, 4-5x week, daily take part in competitive sport of any kind, go to ‘keep fit’ or aerobics classes, go running or jogging, go swimming, go cycling, go for walks, take part in water sports, take part in outdoor sports, go dancing, take part in any other sport or leisure activity which involves physical exercisenot specified
34BCS70b7exerse b7breals"Do you regularly take part in exercise/sport activities?" How often do you take part in these exercise/sports activities? When you take part in these exercise/sports activities, do you get out of breath or sweaty? never, 2-3x month, 1x week, 2-3x week, 4-5x week, daily take part in competitive sport of any kind, go to ‘keep fit’ or aerobics classes, go running or jogging, go swimming, go cycling, go for walks, take part in water sports, take part in outdoor sports, go dancing, take part in any other sport or leisure activity which involves physical exercisenot specified
36NSHDBADSN82 BADSH82 - ACT2N82 ACT2H82"(In your spare time) Have you taken part in any of these sports or outdoor activities in the last 4 weeks?"occurrences/weekbadminton, bowls, cricket, exercises, golf, hill or mountain climbing, jogging, rowing, running or athletics, sailing, squash or rackets, swimming, table tennis, tennis, yoga, water skiing, volleyball, scuba diving, basketball, fishing, riding, movement to music, weight training, ballroom dancing, otherpast 4 weeks
42BCS70B9EXERSE"On how many days in a typical week do you do 30 minutes or more of exercise where you are working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break into a sweat?"30 min or more: 0-7 days*past week
42NCDSexercise breathls sweat"Do you regularly take part in exercise/sport activities? How often do you take part in these exercise/sports activities? When you take part in these exercise/sports activities, do you get out of breath or sweaty?less often, 2-3x month, 1x week, 2-3x week, 4-5x week, daily take part in competitive sport of any kind, go to ‘keep fit’ or aerobics classes, go running or jogging, go swimming, go cycling, go for walks, take part in water sports, take part in outdoor sports, go dancing, take part in any other sport or leisure activity which involves physical exercisenot specified
42BCS70b9scq2a-b9scq2o"How often have you done each of the following sporting activities in the last 12 months?"none, less often, 2-3x month, 1x week, 1x week, 2-3x week, 4-5x week, dailyhealth/fitness/gym/conditioning activities, swimming or diving, cycling, dancing, jogging, walking for pleasure/rambling, racquet sports (tennis etc.), team sports (football), martial arts, water sports (rowing etc.), horse riding, yoga/pilates, golf, skiing, otherpast 12 months
43NSHDEXER89 - EX4SW89"Do you regularly take part in any sports or vigorous leisure activities or do any exercises? (If yes please list) "How often do you do this? On average how long do you spend doing this?minutes; hours; < 1x month, < 1x week, 1x week, >1x weeknot specified
44/45NCDSswimslo swimsloh swimslom - exoth2 exoth2h exoth2m"How often on average, did you do this last year?" "Average time per episode?"minutes, hours;

none, <1x month, 2-3x month, 1x week, 2-3x week, 2-4x week, daily
leisurely swimming; competitive swimming; walking for pleasure; backpacking, hill walking, or mountain climbing; cycling for pleasure ; racing or rough terrain cycling ; high impact aerobics, step aerobics ; other aerobics; exercises with weights; conditioning exercises (“e.g., using an exercise bike or rowing machine”); floor exercises (“e.g., stretching, bending, keep fit”); dancing (“e.g. ballroom, disco”); competitive running; jogging; bowling; tennis or badminton; squash; table tennis; golf; football, rugby or hockey; cricket; rowing; netball, volleyball, basketball; fishing; horse riding; snooker, billiards, darts; musical instrument playing; ice skating; sailing, windsurfing, boating; winter sports (“e.g., skiing”); martial arts/boxing/wrestling; other exercises (“please specify”)past 12 months
46NCDSn7exers1 n7breals n7sweat"Do you regularly take part in exercise/sport activities? How often do you take part in any activity of this type? When you participate in any activity of this type, would you say you got out of breath or sweaty less often, 2-3x month, 1x week, 2-3x week, 4-5x week, daily take part in competitive sport of any kind, go to ‘keep fit’ or aerobics classes, go running or jogging, go swimming, go cycling, go for walks, take part in water sports, take part in outdoor sports, go dancing, take part in any other sport or leisure activity which involves physical exercisenot specified
50NCDSN8EXERSE N8BREALS N8SWEAT"Do you regularly take part in any physical activities or exercise? How often do you take part in any activity of this type? When you participate in any activity of this type, would you say you got out of breath or sweaty less often, 2-3x month, 1x week, 2-3x week, 4-5x week, daily competitive sport of any kind, ‘keep fit’ or aerobics classes, running or jogging, swimming, cycling, walks, water sports, outdoor sports, dancing, other leisure activity which involves physical exercisenot specified
53NSHDEXER EXERN"In the last 4 weeks, have you taken part in any sports or vigorous leisure activities or done any exercises in your spare time, not including getting to and from work, for 30 minutes or more?"30 min or more;

occurrences/week
*past 4 weeks
55NCDSN9LEIS01 N9LEIS05"Whether you take part in the following activities and frequently 1) Play sport or go walking or swimming; 2) Attend leisure activity groups such as evening classes, keep fit, yoga etc"never, several times a year, 1x month, 1x weekplay sport or go walking or swimming. Attend leisure activity groups such as evening classes, keep fit, yoga etc.not specified

Notes. *Participation in individual activities was not recorded.

 


Use of parks and/or recreation facilities

ALSPAC 5y, 6y and MCS 5y, 7y, ask similar questions on park and recreational use (ALSPAC: “About how often does your child do the following… go to public park or playground”; MCS: “(How often do you..) ..take [^Cohort child’s name] to the park or to an outdoor playground?”) and can be compared in frequency (never, yearly, monthly, weekly, daily). These may therefore be comparable in terms of absolute physical activity levels.

BCS70 16y asks about past year trips (“Been in sports-community centre in last year? Number of times?”) and ALSPAC 18y (“In the last four weeks, have you been to or used the following things – Parks and other open spaces?”) may be compared in incidence of visiting recreational areas over the past month or year.

AgeStudyVariable name(s)Question wordingResponse scaleTimespan of recall
5BCS70e242"In the past 7 days has CM been went to a park, recreation ground, adventure playground?" yes/nopast week
5ALSPACkn3123"About how often does your child do the following… go to public park or playground"never, 1-2x year, few times year, 1x month, 1x week, 2-5x week, dailynot specified
5MCScmwalk"(How often do you..) ..take ^Cohort child's name to the park or to an outdoor playground?"never, less often, 1-2x month, 1-2x week, several times a week, dailynot specified
6ALSPACkp6073"About how often does your child do the following… go to public park or playground"never, 1-2x year, few times year, 1x month, 1x week, 2-5x week, dailynot specified
7MCSdmwalk"(How often do you..) ..take ^Cohort child's name to the park or to an outdoor playground?" never, less often, 1-2x month, 1-2x week, several times a week, dailynot specified
16BCS70jc23"Been in sports-community centre in last year? Number of times?"occasionally, 1-2x past month, 1x week, >1x weekpast year
18ALSPACcct1001"In the last four weeks, have you been to or used the following things - Parks and other open spaces?”yes/nopast 4 weeks

 


Participation in sports classes

ALSPAC 4y, 5y, 6y, 7y, 8y, 9y, 11y and MCS 5y, 7y, 11y ask similar questions about attending sports clubs and classes (ALSPAC: “About how often does your child do the following during term time… go to special classes or clubs for some activity (e.g. dancing, judo, sports)”; MCS: “On average how many days a week does [^Cohort child’s name] go to a club or class to do sport or any other physical activity like swimming, gymnastics, football, dancing etc?”) and may be compared in frequency (weekly/non-weekly; occurrences/week) levels.

AgeStudyVariable name(s)Question wordingResponse scaleIncluded activities
4ALSPACkl447"About how often does your child do the following during term time…? Go to special classes or clubs for some activity (e.g. dancing, judo, sports)"never, yearly, monthly, once a week, 2-6x week, dailysports classes
5ALSPACkm4354"About how often does your child do the following during term time…? Go to special classes or clubs for some activity (e.g. dancing, judo, sports)"never, yearly, monthly, once a week, 2-6x week, dailysports classes
5MCScmseho"On average how many days a week does ^Cohort child's name go to a club or class to do sport or any other physical activity like swimming, gymnastics, football, dancing etc.?"never, 1x week, 2x week, 3x week, 4x week, 5+ weeksports classes
6ALSPACkq564"About how often does your child do the following? Go to special classes or clubs for some activity (e.g. dancing, judo, sports)"never, yearly, monthly, once a week, 2-5x week, dailysports classes
7MCSSEHO"On average how many days a week does ^Cohort child's name go to a club or class to do sport or any other physical activity like swimming, gymnastics, football, dancing etc.?”never, <1x week, 1x week, 2x week, 3x week, 4x week, 5+ weeksports classes
8ALSPACkt3006"About how often does your child do the following go to special classes or clubs for some activity (e.g. dancing, judo, sports)"never, yearly, monthly, once a week, 2-5x week, dailysports classes
9ALSPACku525"About how often does your child do the following…? Go to special classes or clubs for some activity (e.g. dancing, judo, sports)"never, <monthly, 1-3x month, 1x week, 2-5x week, dailysports classes
11ALSPACkw9005"About how often does your child do the following…? Go to special classes or clubs for some activity (e.g. dancing, judo, football, other sports)"never, <monthly, 1-3x month, 1x week, 2-5x week, dailysports classes
11MCSEPSEHO00"On average how many days a week does ^Cohort child's name go to a club or class to do sport or any other physical activity like swimming, gymnastics, football, dancing etc.?"never, <1x week, 1x week, 2x week, 3x week, 4x week, 5+ weeksports classes

 


Participation in sports clubs/teams

MCS 11y and ALSPAC 16y both ask questions on sports participation (MCS: “How often does she usually go out to youth, sports clubs or groups? What kind of club? What sports does she do?”; ALSPAC: “How often does she usually go out to youth, sports clubs or groups? What kind of club? What sports does she do?”) and are comparable in frequency (weekly/ non weekly). Since the NCDS 11y question was on a different scale, it is only likely comparable in terms of relative ranking of activity levels (NCDS: “Playing outdoor games or taking part in sports outside school hours”, responses: never or hardly ever, sometimes, often).

AgeStudyVariable name(s)Question wordingResponse scaleIncluded activitiesTimespan of recall
11NCDSN941"Playing outdoor games or taking part in sports outside school hours"never or hardly ever, sometimes, often*not specified
11MCSECQ03X00"How often do you play sports or active games inside or outside, not at school?"never, <1x month, 1x month, 1x week, daily*not specified
16ALSPACtc3031 - tc3061"How often does she usually go out to youth, sports clubs or groups? What kind of club? What sports does she do?"never, <1x week, 1x week, most eveningskeep fit, aerobics or dancing classes, tennis, swimming, wrestling, gymnastics, martial arts, football, boxing, netball, weight training, hockey, other not specified

Notes. *Participation in individual activities was not recorded.

 


Explore the other domains of physical activity & the comparability of measurements across studies:

Learn more about the studies covered by this guide and their measurement of physical activity:

Further information:


This page is part of the CLOSER resource: ‘Physical activity across age and study: a guide to data in six CLOSER studies’.