How Active Are Adults in the United States?

If we were being completely honest, few of us would probably admit that we get enough exercise. In January 2020, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported the results of a telephone survey that quantified this lack of physical activity among people all across the United States.

The CDC found that more than 15% of adults in every U.S. state and territory are physically inactive.
The CDC found that more than 15% of adults in every U.S. state and territory are physically inactive.

Survey respondents were asked if they had participated in “any physical activities or exercises, such as running, calisthenics, golf, gardening, or walking for exercise” during the past month. In every U.S. state and territory, at least 15 percent of people said they had not recently engaged in any type of exercise.

At opposite ends of the spectrum, nearly half (47.7%) of respondents in Puerto Rico reported that they were physically inactive, while just 17.3% of respondents in Colorado were inactive.

Active and not-so-active Americans:

  • Regionally, the South (28%) had the highest prevalence of physical inactivity, followed by the Northeast (25.6%), Midwest (25%), and the West (20.5%).

  • The most active respondents were residents of four western states and the nation's capital. People in Colorado, Washington, Utah, Oregon, and Washington, D.C. had the lowest levels of inactivity, at between 15% and 20% of adults.

  • The CDC says physical inactivity contributes to $117 billion USD in annual health care costs and can lead to premature death. People are urged to get at least 2.5 hours of moderate-to-intense activity each week.

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