Press Release

Disclosures: Petersen reports no relevant financial disclosures.
January 20, 2022
2 min read

CDC: 25% of US adults are physically inactive


Press Release

Disclosures: Petersen reports no relevant financial disclosures.
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About one in four adults in the U.S. and its territories are physically inactive, meaning they have not participated in activities such as running, walking for exercise or gardening outside of work in the past month, according to the CDC.

This represents an increase from January 2020, when the CDC announced that more than 15% of U.S. adults were physically inactive, Healio previously reported.

Source: CDC

“Getting enough physical activity could prevent one in 10 premature deaths,” Ruth Petersen, MD, the director of CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity, said in a press release. “Too many people are missing out on the health benefits of physical activity such as improved sleep, reduced blood pressure and anxiety, lowered risk for heart disease, several cancers and dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease).

The new estimates are based on 2017 to 2020 data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, which is an ongoing telephone-based survey conducted by the CDC and state health departments.

According to the CDC, the prevalence of physical inactivity was highest in the South (27.5%), followed by the Midwest (25.2%), Northeast (24.7%) and West (21%). It exceeded 30% in seven states and one territory: Alabama (30.7%), Arkansas (31.1%), Kentucky (32.5%), Louisiana (30.8%), Mississippi (33.2%), Oklahoma (30.5%), West Virginia (30.1%) and Puerto Rico (49.4%). Colorado had the lowest level of physical inactivity, 17.7%.

The CDC reported “notable differences” in the prevalence of physical inactivity by race and ethnicity. The prevalence was highest in Hispanic adults (32.1%), followed by non-Hispanic Black adults (30%), non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaskan Native adults (29.1%), non-Hispanic white adults (23%) and non-Hispanic Asian adults (20.1%).

The CDC also reported that the prevalence of physical inactivity was 30% or higher among:

  • non-Hispanic Asian adults in Alaska, Montana and Guam;
  • non-Hispanic white adults in Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma and West Virginia;
  • non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native adults in 27 states;
  • non-Hispanic Black adults in 23 states and the District of Columbia; and
  • Hispanic adults in 25 states and Puerto Rico.

The racial and ethnic disparities may be due to a “lack of access to safe and convenient places to be physically active,” according to the CDC. U.S. guidelines currently recommend that adults participate in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week. The CDC said it is currently working with communities and partners to improve physical activity levels through the Active People, Healthy Nation initiative, which aims to help at least 27 million Americans become more physically active by 2027.