Physical Activity

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In 2015, 30.0% of adults reported no physical activity in their leisure time.

Summary graph for Physical Activity, Click to see detailed view of graph

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Introduction

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle has the potential to reduce both cancer- and non-cancer-related morbidity. In particular, physical activity may reduce the risk of several types of cancer, including breast, colon, endometrium (lining of the uterus), and advanced prostate cancers, and it may also lower a person’s risk of other health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and osteoporosis (bone thinning). Being active may also help to prevent weight gain and obesity, which can reduce the risk of developing cancers that have been linked to excess body weight.

Physical activity also improves the quality of life among cancer patients and survivors. Studies are beginning to explore the potential for physical activity, including aerobic, strength, and flexibility training, to improve cancer survival rates.

Several national groups offer recommendations for engaging in regular physical activity. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 1 hour of physical activity every day for children and adolescents, and 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, or 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, for adults each week. Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week.

Measure

Percentage of adults aged 18 years and older who reported no leisure-time physical activity during the past month and percentage of adults who meet both the aerobic and muscle-strengthening guidelines.

Healthy People 2020 Target

  • Reduce the percentage of adults who engage in no leisure-time physical activity to 32.6 percent.
  • Increase the proportion of adults who meet the objectives for aerobic physical activity and for muscle-strengthening activity to 20.1 percent.

Healthy People 2020 is a set of goals set forth by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Data Source

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Interview Survey 1997–2015.

Trends and Most Recent EstimatesHelp with navigating the graphs and data tables

No Leisure Time Physical Activty

By Sex
Percentage of adults aged 18 years and older reporting no physical activity in their leisure time by sex, 1997-2015
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2015)
Percent of adults Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of adults aged 18 years and older reporting no physical activity in their leisure time by sex, 1997-2015 Both SexesClick to see the detailed trend graph for Both Sexes 30.0 (29.2 - 30.9)
MaleClick to see the detailed trend graph for Male 28.5 (27.5 - 29.6)
FemaleClick to see the detailed trend graph for Female 31.4 (30.4 - 32.4)
By Race/Ethnicity
Percentage of adults aged 18 years and older reporting no physical activity in their leisure time by race/ethnicity, 1997-2015
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2015)
Percent of adults Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of adults aged 18 years and older reporting no physical activity in their leisure time by race/ethnicity, 1997-2015 All RacesClick to see the detailed trend graph for All Races 30.0 (29.2 - 30.9)
Non-Hispanic WhiteClick to see the detailed trend graph for Non-Hispanic White 26.6 (25.6 - 27.7)
Non-Hispanic BlackClick to see the detailed trend graph for Non-Hispanic Black 37.8 (35.8 - 39.8)
HispanicClick to see the detailed trend graph for Hispanic 38.6 (36.7 - 40.6)
By Poverty Income Level
Percentage of adults aged 18 years and older reporting no physical activity in their leisure time by poverty income level, 1997-2015
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2015)
Percent of adults Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of adults aged 18 years and older reporting no physical activity in their leisure time by poverty income level, 1997-2015 <200% of federal poverty levelClick to see the detailed trend graph for <200% of federal poverty level 42.7 (41.4 - 44.1)
>=200% of federal poverty levelClick to see the detailed trend graph for >=200% of federal poverty level 24.7 (23.8 - 25.6)
By Education Level
Percentage of adults aged 25 years and older reporting no physical activity in their leisure time by highest level of education obtained, 1997-2015
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2015)
Percent of adults Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of adults aged 25 years and older reporting no physical activity in their leisure time by highest level of education obtained, 1997-2015 Less than High SchoolClick to see the detailed trend graph for Less than High School 50.5 (48.3 - 52.8)
High SchoolClick to see the detailed trend graph for High School 40.2 (38.4 - 41.9)
Greater than High SchoolClick to see the detailed trend graph for Greater than High School 23.4 (22.5 - 24.4)

Meet Federal Guidelines

By Sex
Percentage of adults aged 18 years and older who meet current Federal guidelines for aerobic and muscle-strengthening physical activity by sex, 1997-2015
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2015)
Percent of adults Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of adults aged 18 years and older who meet current Federal guidelines for aerobic and muscle-strengthening physical activity by sex, 1997-2015 Both SexesClick to see the detailed trend graph for Both Sexes 21.3 (20.6 - 21.9)
MaleClick to see the detailed trend graph for Male 24.9 (24.0 - 25.9)
FemaleClick to see the detailed trend graph for Female 17.7 (16.9 - 18.5)
By Race/Ethnicity
Percentage of adults aged 18 years and older who meet current Federal guidelines for aerobic and muscle-strengthening physical activity by race/ethnicity, 1997-2015
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2015)
Percent of adults Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of adults aged 18 years and older who meet current Federal guidelines for aerobic and muscle-strengthening physical activity by race/ethnicity, 1997-2015 All RacesClick to see the detailed trend graph for All Races 21.3 (20.6 - 21.9)
Non-Hispanic WhiteClick to see the detailed trend graph for Non-Hispanic White 23.1 (22.2 - 23.9)
Non-Hispanic BlackClick to see the detailed trend graph for Non-Hispanic Black 19.7 (18.1 - 21.3)
HispanicClick to see the detailed trend graph for Hispanic 16.4 (15.2 - 17.7)
By Poverty Income Level
Percentage of adults aged 18 years and older who meet current Federal guidelines for aerobic and muscle-strengthening physical activity by poverty income level, 1997-2015
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2015)
Percent of adults Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of adults aged 18 years and older who meet current Federal guidelines for aerobic and muscle-strengthening physical activity by poverty income level, 1997-2015 <200% of federal poverty levelClick to see the detailed trend graph for <200% of federal poverty level 12.0 (11.1 - 12.8)
>=200% of federal poverty levelClick to see the detailed trend graph for >=200% of federal poverty level 25.4 (24.6 - 26.1)
By Education Level
Percentage of adults aged 25 years and older who meet current Federal guidelines for aerobic and muscle-strengthening physical activity by highest level of education obtained, 1997-2015
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2015)
Percent of adults Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of adults aged 25 years and older who meet current Federal guidelines for aerobic and muscle-strengthening physical activity by highest level of education obtained, 1997-2015 Less than High SchoolClick to see the detailed trend graph for Less than High School 7.8 (6.6 - 9.0)
High SchoolClick to see the detailed trend graph for High School 13.0 (11.7 - 14.2)
Greater than High SchoolClick to see the detailed trend graph for Greater than High School 25.1 (24.3 - 25.9)

Additional Information on Physical Activity

For the public

Scientific reports

Statistics

Year Range

1997-2015

Recent Summary Trend Year Range

2011-2015

Summary Tables

Weight and Physical Activity

Recent Summary Trend

Non-Significant Change

Desired Direction

Falling