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Physical Inactivity - Ages 65+
Physical Inactivity - Ages 65+ in California

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Percentage of adults ages 65 and older in fair or better health who reported doing no physical activity or exercise other than their regular job in the past 30 days

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Physical Inactivity - Ages 65+ by State

Percentage of adults ages 65 and older in fair or better health who reported doing no physical activity or exercise other than their regular job in the past 30 days

Physical Inactivity - Ages 65+ Trends

Percentage of adults ages 65 and older in fair or better health who reported doing no physical activity or exercise other than their regular job in the past 30 days

Trend: Physical Inactivity - Ages 65+ in California, United States, 2023 Senior Report

Percentage of adults ages 65 and older in fair or better health who reported doing no physical activity or exercise other than their regular job in the past 30 days

United States

 CDC, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System

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About Physical Inactivity - Ages 65+

US Value: 31.2%

Top State(s): Colorado: 21.4%

Bottom State(s): Alabama: 41.3%

Definition: Percentage of adults ages 65 and older in fair or better health who reported doing no physical activity or exercise other than their regular job in the past 30 days

Data Source and Years: CDC, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2021

Suggested Citation: America's Health Rankings analysis of CDC, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, United Health Foundation,, accessed 2023.

Physical inactivity, or living a sedentary lifestyle, can increase the risk of several negative health outcomes, such as:

Around 10% of deaths among adults ages 40-69 and 7.8% of deaths among adults ages 70 and older can be attributed to physical inactivity. Costs associated with physical inactivity account for more than 11% of total health care expenditures and are estimated at $117 billion annually.

The prevalence of physical inactivity is higher among:

  • Older women compared with older men.
  • American Indian/Alaska Native, Black and Hispanic older adults compared with non-Hispanic white, Asian and multiracial older adults.
  • Older adults with less than a high school education, who have a prevalence more than double that of college graduates; the prevalence decreases with each increase in education level. 
  • Older adults with an annual household income less than $25,000, who have a prevalence more than double that of those making $75,000 or more annually; the prevalence decreases with each increase in income level. 
  • Older adults living in non-metropolitan areas compared with those in metropolitan areas.
  • Older adults with a disability.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that adults ages 65 and older get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity weekly. 

Increasing physical activity has been found to reduce mortality from all causes and can prevent or delay the onset of many chronic diseases. Successful interventions among older adults include:

  • The EnhanceFitness program. This low-cost program aims to improve older adults’ fitness levels. Participants have experienced increases in their physical and mental health. The program has driven down health costs and is associated with fewer unplanned hospitalizations.
  • The SilverSneakers program. Select Medicare plans offer this program to older adults at no additional cost and provide access to multiple fitness facilities nationwide. Those who participate more frequently in this program report better physical and mental health outcomes and have lower health care costs
  • Increasing neighborhood walkability. A growing body of evidence illustrates the importance of the built environment and community design in promoting physical activity. Neighborhood walkability can be assessed and improved by using the Active Communities tool

The CDC offers further strategies and tools that public health professionals can use to encourage community-based physical activities for older adults, as well as information on how older Americans can add physical activity to their lives.

Healthy People 2030 has several goals related to physical activity, including reducing the proportion of adults who do no physical activity in their free time and increasing the proportion of older adults with physical or cognitive health problems who get physical activity.

Belza, Basia. “Moving Ahead: Strategies and Tools to Plan, Conduct, and Maintain Effective Community-Based Physical Activity Programs for Older Adults.” Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2007.

Carlson, Susan A., E. Kathleen Adams, Zhou Yang, and Janet E. Fulton. “Percentage of Deaths Associated With Inadequate Physical Activity in the United States.” Preventing Chronic Disease 15 (March 29, 2018): 170354.

Carlson, Susan A., Janet E. Fulton, Michael Pratt, Zhou Yang, and E. Kathleen Adams. “Inadequate Physical Activity and Health Care Expenditures in the United States.” Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, 2013 Global Congress on Physical Activity - All Hearts Need Exercise: A Global Call to Action by the AHA, 57, no. 4 (January 1, 2015): 315–23.

Chase, Jo-Ana D. “Physical Activity Interventions among Older Adults: A Literature Review.” Research and Theory for Nursing Practice 27, no. 1 (2013): 53–80.

Evenson, Kelly R., Anna K. Porter, Kristine L. Day, Carol McPhillips-Tangum, Karma E. Harris, Chris S. Kochtitzky, and Philip Bors. “Developing the Active Communities Tool to Implement the Community Guide’s Built Environment Recommendation for Increasing Physical Activity.” Preventing Chronic Disease 17 (November 12, 2020): 200118.

Gilchrist, Susan C., Virginia J. Howard, Tomi Akinyemiju, Suzanne E. Judd, Mary Cushman, Steven P. Hooker, and Keith M. Diaz. “Association of Sedentary Behavior With Cancer Mortality in Middle-Aged and Older US Adults.” JAMA Oncology 6, no. 8 (June 18, 2020): 1210–17.

Hupin, David, Frédéric Roche, Vincent Gremeaux, Jean-Claude Chatard, Mathieu Oriol, Jean-Michel Gaspoz, Jean-Claude Barthélémy, and Pascal Edouard. “Even a Low-Dose of Moderate-to-Vigorous Physical Activity Reduces Mortality by 22% in Adults Aged ≥60 Years: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” British Journal of Sports Medicine 49, no. 19 (October 1, 2015): 1262–67.

Kell, Kenneth P., and Elizabeth Y. Rula. “Increasing Exercise Frequency Is Associated with Health and Quality-of-Life Benefits for Older Adults.” Quality of Life Research 28, no. 12 (2019): 3267–72.

Kim, Yeonju, Lynne R. Wilkens, Song-Yi Park, Marc T. Goodman, Kristine R. Monroe, and Laurence N. Kolonel. “Association between Various Sedentary Behaviours and All-Cause, Cardiovascular Disease and Cancer Mortality: The Multiethnic Cohort Study.” International Journal of Epidemiology 42, no. 4 (August 2013): 1040–56.

King, Abby C., James F. Sallis, Lawrence D. Frank, Brian E. Saelens, Kelli Cain, Terry L. Conway, James E. Chapman, David K. Ahn, and Jacqueline Kerr. “Aging in Neighborhoods Differing in Walkability and Income: Associations with Physical Activity and Obesity in Older Adults.” Social Science & Medicine 73, no. 10 (November 2011): 1525–33.

McGuire, Lisa C., Tara W. Strine, Catherine A. Okoro, Indu B. Ahluwalia, and Earl S. Ford. “Healthy Lifestyle Behaviors among Older U.S. Adults with and without Disabilities, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2003.” Preventing Chronic Disease 4, no. 1 (January 2007): A09.

Moore, Steven C., I-Min Lee, Elisabete Weiderpass, Peter T. Campbell, Joshua N. Sampson, Cari M. Kitahara, Sarah K. Keadle, et al. “Association of Leisure-Time Physical Activity With Risk of 26 Types of Cancer in 1.44 Million Adults.” JAMA Internal Medicine 176, no. 6 (June 1, 2016): 816–25.

Nguyen, Huong Q., Ronald T. Ackermann, Matthew Maciejewski, Ethan Berke, Marsha Patrick, Barbara Williams, and James P. LoGerfo. “Managed-Medicare Health Club Benefit and Reduced Health Care Costs among Older Adults.” Preventing Chronic Disease 5, no. 1 (January 2008): A14.

“Report to Congress: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Evaluation of Community-Based Wellness and Prevention Programs under Section 4202 (b) of the Affordable Care Act,” 2013.

Snyder, Susan J., Meghan Thompson, and Paige Denison. “EnhanceFitness: A 20-Year Dissemination History.” Frontiers in Public Health 2 (2014): 270.

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