- 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. (2012 BRFSS Methodology)
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:
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  and it is responsible for an estimated $24 billion in direct medical spending. Increasing physical activity, especially from a complete absence, can not only prevent numerous chronic diseases; it can also help to manage them. It is estimated that physical inactivity is responsible for almost 200,000 or 1 in 10 deaths each year. Physical inactivity is associated with many social and environmental factors as well, including low educational attainment, socioeconomic status, violent crime, and poverty. 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.
 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.
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