Activity levels among older adults showed mixed results. Exercise — the percentage of older adults meeting the federal physical activity guidelines — increased. On the other hand, physical inactivity, or being sedentary, also increased.

Exercise

Definition: Percentage of adults ages 65 and older who met the federal physical activity guidelines* in the past 30 days.
* 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity and two days of muscle strengthening per week.
In 2019, 23.1% of adults ages 65 and older met the federal physical activity guidelines. These guidelines, found in the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition, apply to older adults who have good fitness and no chronic conditions. Adults with reduced physical fitness or chronic conditions are encouraged to be as physically active as their capabilities allow. Exercise prevalence increased 31% since 2017 (17.6%), an increase of 2.65 million older adults.
Between 2017 and 2019, the prevalence of exercise significantly increased in 32 states and the District of Columbia, led by Arkansas (11.8% to 19.8%), South Carolina (14.1% to 23.4%) and Indiana (13.6 % to 21.8%).
Exercise varied by state, gender, race and ethnicity, education and income. In 2019, exercise among adults ages 65 and older was:
Routine exercise has been shown to reduce premature death and risks for many chronic diseases including obesity, diabetes and hypertension as well as behavioral health issues such as depression and anxiety.


Physical inactivity

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.
In 2019, 31.0% of adults ages 65 and older in fair or better health were physically inactive, also sometimes referred to as sedentary. More than 40.0% of older adults in Mississippi, Kentucky and Oklahoma were physically inactive.
Physical inactivity has increased 5% since 2018 (29.4%), an increase of 1.2 million older adults. Between 2018 and 2019, the prevalence of physical inactivity significantly increased in seven states, led by Idaho (24.0% to 30.9%), South Dakota (30.3% to 39.0%) and Maine (28.6% to 35.7%).
Physical inactivity varied by state, gender, race and ethnicity, education and income. In 2019, physical inactivity among adults ages 65 and older in fair or better health was:
Physical inactivity can increase the risk of several health outcomes such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and cancer mortality, obesity as well as the development of diabetes and premature death. Costs associated with physical inactivity account for more than 11% of total health care expenditures and were estimated at $117 billion annually.



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