Text Size Aa Aa Aa
United States
Physical Inactivity
  • Thematic Map
  • Disparity Visualization
  • Related Measures
Watch the changes over time by selecting a year to start with and pressing play.

Disparities Visualization

See the disparities across affected population segments


Related Measures

Explore the relations between ranking measures

  • Overview
  • Graph
  • Rankings

Physical Inactivity is the percentage of adults who report doing no physical activity or exercise (such as running, calisthenics, golf, gardening, or walking) other than their regular job in the last 30 days. The 2013 ranks are based on self-report data from CDC’s 2012 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). In the 2012 Edition, physical inactivity was referred to as sedentary lifestyle. Because of the 2011 change in BRFSS methodology, physical inactivity prevalence from the 2012 Edition onward cannot be directly compared to estimates from previous years (see Methodology).

Regular physical activity is one of the most important elements of a healthy lifestyle. The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published the following physical activity guidelines for adults[1]:

         All adults should avoid inactivity. Some physical activity is better than none, and adults who participate in any amount of physical activity gain some health benefits.

  • For substantial health benefits, adults should do at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous intensity aerobic activity. Aerobic activity should be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes, and preferably, it should be spread throughout the week.
  • For additional and more extensive health benefits, adults should increase their aerobic physical activity to 300 minutes a week of moderate intensity, or 150 minutes a week of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity. Additional health benefits are gained by engaging in physical activity beyond this amount.
  • Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities that are moderate or high intensity and involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week, as these activities provide additional health benefits.

Physical inactivity increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and premature death[2] [3] and it is responsible for an estimated $24 billion in direct medical spending.[4] Increasing physical activity, especially from a complete absence, can not only prevent numerous chronic diseases; it can also help to manage them.[5] It is estimated that physical inactivity is responsible for almost 200,000 or 1 in 10 deaths each year.[6] Physical inactivity is associated with many social and environmental factors as well, including low educational attainment, socioeconomic status, violent crime, and poverty.[7] Even moderate increases in physical activity can greatly reduce risk for adverse health outcomes. The CDC has put together resources and tips on how to add physical activity to your life.

The prevalence of physical inactivity ranges from a high of 31.0 percent or more of adults in Arkansas and West Virginia to less than 17.0 percent of adults in Oregon and Utah. The national median of adults who do not engage in physical activity is 22.9 percent, a 14 percent decrease from 26.2 percent of adults in the 2012 Edition. For physical inactivity prevalence by state and age, gender, race/ethnicity, urbanicity, income, or education level, see Health Disparities within States.

Healthy People 2020’s objective is to reduce the proportion of adults who engage in no leisure-time physical activity by 10.0 percent. In addition, HP2020 has a leading health indicator to increase the proportion of adults who meet objectives for aerobic physical activity and for muscle-strengthening activity.


[1] US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). 2008 Physical activity guidelines for Americans. http://www.health.gov/PAGuidelines/pdf/paguide.pdf. Accessed October 7, 2013.

[2] Hu FB. Sedentary lifestyle and risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Lipids. 2003;38(2):103.

[3] King AC. Environmental and policy approaches to cardiovascular disease prevention through physical activity: Issues and opportunities. Health Education Behavior. 1995;22(4):499.

[4] Colditz GA. Economic costs of obesity and inactivity. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1999;31(11 Suppl):S663-7.

[5] Weiler R, Stamatakis E, Blair S. Should health policy focus on physical activity rather than obesity? Yes. BMJ. 2010;340(7757):1170-1171.

[6] Danaei G. The preventable causes of death in the United States: Comparative risk assessment of dietary, lifestyle, and metabolic risk factors. PLoS Medicine. 2009;6(4).

[7] King AC. Personal and environmental factors associated with physical inactivity among different racial–ethnic groups of US middle-aged and older-aged women. Health Psychology. 2000;19(4):354.


USA Physical Inactivity (1997-2013) see more
  • Percent of adults who indicated that they have not participated in any physical activities outside of work during the past month.
  • Percentage of adults who report doing no physical activity or exercise (such as running, calisthenics, golf, gardening or walking) other than their regular job in the last 30 days. (2011 BRFSS Methodology)

The measures tracked by America's Health Rankings are those actions that can affect the future health of the population. For a state to improve the health of its population, efforts must focus on these measures, these determinants of health.


State Changes
Over Time
Rank Value Take Action
Alabama graph 42 27.2 View Actions
Alaska graph 7 18.4 View Actions
Arizona graph 22 22.5 View Actions
Arkansas graph 50 31.4 View Actions
California graph 6 18.0 View Actions
Colorado graph 3 17.0 View Actions
Connecticut graph 21 22.1 View Actions
Delaware graph 32 23.5 View Actions
District of Columbia graph 0 17.4 View Actions
Florida graph 28 23.2 View Actions
Georgia graph 33 23.6 View Actions
Hawaii graph 8 18.7 View Actions
Idaho graph 12 20.3 View Actions
Illinois graph 19 21.8 View Actions
Indiana graph 41 25.9 View Actions
Iowa graph 27 23.1 View Actions
Kansas graph 25 22.9 View Actions
Kentucky graph 46 29.6 View Actions
Louisiana graph 47 29.9 View Actions
Maine graph 15 20.9 View Actions
Maryland graph 26 23.0 View Actions
Massachusetts graph 10 19.7 View Actions
Michigan graph 29 23.3 View Actions
Minnesota graph 5 17.5 View Actions
Mississippi graph 48 30.8 View Actions
Missouri graph 36 24.7 View Actions
Montana graph 14 20.5 View Actions
Nebraska graph 16 21.0 View Actions
Nevada graph 18 21.3 View Actions
New Hampshire graph 11 19.9 View Actions
New Jersey graph 37 24.9 View Actions
New Mexico graph 19 21.8 View Actions
New York graph 35 24.6 View Actions
North Carolina graph 37 24.9 View Actions
North Dakota graph 34 23.8 View Actions
Ohio graph 40 25.2 View Actions
Oklahoma graph 44 28.3 View Actions
Oregon graph 1 16.2 View Actions
Pennsylvania graph 30 23.4 View Actions
Rhode Island graph 30 23.4 View Actions
South Carolina graph 39 25.0 View Actions
South Dakota graph 22 22.5 View Actions
Tennessee graph 45 28.6 View Actions
Texas graph 42 27.2 View Actions
Utah graph 2 16.5 View Actions
Vermont graph 4 17.2 View Actions
Virginia graph 22 22.5 View Actions
Washington graph 9 18.9 View Actions
West Virginia graph 49 31.0 View Actions
Wisconsin graph 12 20.3 View Actions
Wyoming graph 17 21.1 View Actions
  • 1990 - 2013
    Annual Report
  • 2013
    Senior Report

Compare Statistics