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State-Specific Prevalence of Participation in Physical Activity -- Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 1994

Participation in physical activity on a regular basis provides important health benefits, including reduced risk for heart disease, colon cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Regular physical activity also helps control weight; contributes to development and maintenance of healthy bones, muscles, and joints; and reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression (1). Recent recommendations have emphasized moderate intensity activities nearly every day for those who are unable to maintain the previously recommended program of strenuous activity three times a week (2). To determine the proportion of adults who are participating in regular physical activity, regardless of the level of intensity, CDC analyzed data from the 1994 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). This report summarizes the results of that analysis, which indicates that, in every state surveyed, most adults are not participating in regular physical activity.

The BRFSS is a population-based, random-digit-dialed telephone survey of the noninstitutionalized U.S. population aged greater than or equal to 18 years. Data were available for 105,390 respondents in 49 states and the District of Columbia. Respondents were asked about the frequency, duration, and intensity of leisure-time physical activities during the preceding month and were categorized as having reported no leisure-time physical activity, irregular activity that did not meet the recommended criteria for either regular sustained or regular vigorous physical activity, or regular activity meeting either the previous recommendation for regular vigorous physical activity (greater than or equal to 20 minutes per day of vigorous physical activity on greater than or equal to 3 days per week) or for regular sustained physical activity of any intensity (an average of greater than or equal to 30 minutes per day of activity on greater than or equal to 5 days per week). Data were weighted and aggregated, and composite estimates and standard errors were calculated using SESUDAAN. Age-adjusted prevalence estimates and 95% confidence intervals were calculated by state.

Overall, reported participation in regular physical activity by state ranged from 16.0% (District of Columbia) to 35.7% (Oregon) (median: 26.9%) (Table_1). The ranges among states were similar for men (15.8% to 39.0%) and women (15.6% to 38.3%). Participation in no leisure-time physical activity ranged from 18.3% (Washington) to 49.3% (District of Columbia) (median: 28.9%). For men, the range among states was from 16.0% to 49.1% for no leisure-time physical activity and for women, from 19.5% to 50.1%. For insufficient physical activity (no leisure-time activity and irregular activity combined), estimates ranged from 64.3% to 84.0% (median: 73.1%).

Reported by the following BRFSS coordinators: J Durham, MPA, Alabama; P Owen, Alaska; B Bender, Arizona; J Senner, PhD, Arkansas; B Davis, PhD, California; M Leff, MSPH, Colorado; M Adams, MPH, Connecticut; F Breukelman, Delaware; C Mitchell, District of Columbia; D McTague, MS, Florida; E Pledger, MPA, Georgia; J Cooper, MA, Hawaii; C Johnson, MPH, Idaho; B Steiner, MS, Illinois; N Costello, MPA, Indiana; P Busick, Iowa; M Perry, Kansas; K Asher, Kentucky; A Bayakly, Louisiana; D Maines, Maine; A Weinstein, MA, Maryland; D Brooks, MPH, Massachusetts; H McGee, MPH, Michigan; N Salem, PhD, Minnesota; S Loyd, Mississippi; J Jackson-Thompson, PhD, Missouri; P Smith, Montana; S Huffman, Nebraska; E DeJan, MPH, Nevada; K Zaso, MPH, New Hampshire; G Boeselager, MS, New Jersey; P Jaramillo, MPA, New Mexico; C Maylahn, MPH, New York; G Lengerich, VMD, North Carolina; J Kaske, MPH, North Dakota; R Indian, MS, Ohio; N Hann, MPH, Oklahoma; J Grant-Worley, MS, Oregon; L Mann, Pennsylvania; J Ferguson, PhD, South Carolina; M Gildemaster, South Dakota; D Ridings, Tennessee; R Diamond, MPH, Texas; R Giles, Utah; R McIntyre, PhD, Vermont; J Stones, Virginia; K Wynkoop-Simmons, PhD, Washington; F King, West Virginia; E Cautley, MS, Wisconsin; M Futa, MA, Wyoming. Physical Activity and Health Br, Div of Nutrition and Physical Activity, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, CDC.

Editorial Note

Editorial Note: The findings in this report indicate that most persons in the United States are not regularly physically active. Although considerable variation exists between states, in every state surveyed, greater than or equal to 60% of adults do not achieve the recommended amount of physical activity, and in half of the states, greater than or equal to 73% are insufficiently active.

Regular participation in physical activity was similar for men and women. Although this report does not examine differences in participation in physical activity by other demographic factors, previous reports indicate that physical activity levels are particularly low among persons with less education and income and among older adults (1,3).

The Surgeon General's report on physical activity and health (1) highlighted numerous important health benefits associated with regular participation in physical activity and emphasized that even moderate levels of physical activity provide substantial health benefits (1). A comprehensive public health effort is needed to address the pervasive problem of insufficient physical activity and should include individualized outreach, mass media efforts, professional education of health-care providers and teachers in techniques to encourage physical activity, and environmental and policy strategies aimed at increasing opportunities for persons to be physically active. Physical activities that can promote health include brisk walking, raking leaves, social dancing, washing and waxing a car, using stairs rather than an elevator, bicycling, swimming, and playing sports.

References

  1. US Department of Health and Human Services. Physical activity and health: a report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, CDC, 1996.

  2. Pate RR, Pratt M, Blair SN, et al. Physical activity and public health: a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Sports Medicine. JAMA 1995;273:402-7.

  3. CDC. Prevalence of sedentary lifestyle -- Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, United States, 1991. MMWR 1993;42:576-9.



Table_1
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TABLE 1. Percentage of respondents reporting leisure-time physical activity, by level of
activity and state -- United States, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 1994 *
==============================================================================================
                                           Level of activity
               -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                   Regular +      Insufficient &        None           Irregular @
               -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
State           %    (95% CI **)    %    (95% CI)    %     (95% CI)    %    (95% CI)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Alabama        23.5   (+/-2.3%)    76.5   (+/-2.3%)    45.8   (+/-2.7%)    30.7   (+/-2.4%)
Alaska         32.9   (+/-3.6%)    67.1   (+/-3.6%)    26.0   (+/-3.6%)    41.0   (+/-3.9%)
Arizona        28.2   (+/-2.9%)    71.8   (+/-2.9%)    23.7   (+/-2.7%)    48.1   (+/-3.2%)
Arkansas       22.1   (+/-2.3%)    77.9   (+/-2.3%)    34.5   (+/-2.7%)    43.4   (+/-2.8%)
California     29.7   (+/-1.7%)    70.3   (+/-1.7%)    21.9   (+/-1.5%)    48.4   (+/-1.8%)
Colorado       32.8   (+/-2.6%)    67.2   (+/-2.6%)    17.9   (+/-2.2%)    49.2   (+/-2.7%)
Connecticut    34.1   (+/-2.7%)    65.9   (+/-2.7%)    21.8   (+/-2.1%)    44.2   (+/-2.7%)
Delaware       25.5   (+/-2.2%)    74.5   (+/-2.2%)    36.5   (+/-2.4%)    38.0   (+/-2.4%)
District of
 Columbia      16.0   (+/-2.3%)    84.0   (+/-2.3%)    49.3   (+/-3.3%)    34.7   (+/-2.8%)
Florida        32.2   (+/-1.7%)    67.8   (+/-1.7%)    27.4   (+/-1.7%)    40.4   (+/-1.9%)
Georgia        25.5   (+/-2.1%)    74.5   (+/-2.1%)    34.1   (+/-2.3%)    40.4   (+/-2.2%)
Hawaii         33.9   (+/-2.5%)    66.1   (+/-2.5%)    21.3   (+/-2.2%)    44.7   (+/-2.7%)
Idaho          32.3   (+/-2.8%)    67.7   (+/-2.8%)    21.8   (+/-2.2%)    45.9   (+/-2.8%)
Illinois       23.9   (+/-2.1%)    76.1   (+/-2.1%)    33.4   (+/-2.4%)    42.8   (+/-2.4%)
Indiana        25.0   (+/-2.0%)    75.0   (+/-2.0%)    29.5   (+/-2.0%)    45.5   (+/-2.2%)
Iowa           23.0   (+/-1.9%)    77.0   (+/-1.9%)    32.7   (+/-2.0%)    44.2   (+/-2.1%)
Kansas         24.9   (+/-2.6%)    75.1   (+/-2.6%)    33.9   (+/-2.7%)    41.1   (+/-2.9%)
Kentucky       19.3   (+/-1.9%)    80.7   (+/-1.9%)    45.7   (+/-2.3%)    35.0   (+/-2.1%)
Louisiana      22.5   (+/-2.3%)    77.5   (+/-2.3%)    33.5   (+/-2.7%)    43.9   (+/-2.9%)
Maine          18.5   (+/-2.3%)    81.5   (+/-2.3%)    41.0   (+/-3.0%)    40.4   (+/-3.0%)
Maryland       25.8   (+/-1.5%)    74.2   (+/-1.5%)    31.1   (+/-1.7%)    43.1   (+/-1.7%)
Massachusetts  31.8   (+/-2.6%)    68.2   (+/-2.6%)    24.4   (+/-2.3%)    43.8   (+/-2.7%)
Michigan       29.1   (+/-2.1%)    70.9   (+/-2.1%)    23.4   (+/-1.9%)    47.6   (+/-2.2%)
Minnesota      28.1   (+/-1.6%)    71.9   (+/-1.6%)    22.0   (+/-1.4%)    50.0   (+/-1.7%)
Mississippi    19.6   (+/-2.3%)    80.4   (+/-2.3%)    38.3   (+/-2.8%)    42.1   (+/-2.8%)
Missouri       24.1   (+/-2.5%)    75.9   (+/-2.5%)    31.0   (+/-2.7%)    44.9   (+/-2.9%)
Montana        28.1   (+/-2.8%)    71.9   (+/-2.8%)    20.7   (+/-2.4%)    51.2   (+/-3.1%)
Nebraska       24.7   (+/-2.2%)    75.3   (+/-2.2%)    24.1   (+/-2.1%)    51.2   (+/-2.6%)
Nevada         31.7   (+/-2.6%)    68.3   (+/-2.6%)    21.6   (+/-2.2%)    46.7   (+/-2.7%)
New Hampshire  29.8   (+/-2.6%)    70.2   (+/-2.6%)    26.1   (+/-2.5%)    44.1   (+/-2.9%)
New Jersey     26.7   (+/-2.6%)    73.3   (+/-2.6%)    30.5   (+/-2.7%)    42.7   (+/-3.0%)
New Mexico     35.4   (+/-3.1%)    64.6   (+/-3.1%)    19.7   (+/-2.5%)    44.9   (+/-3.2%)
New York       20.9   (+/-1.9%)    79.1   (+/-1.9%)    36.9   (+/-2.4%)    42.2   (+/-2.3%)
North Carolina 17.9   (+/-1.9%)    82.1   (+/-1.9%)    43.0   (+/-2.4%)    39.0   (+/-2.4%)
North Dakota   27.1   (+/-2.3%)    72.9   (+/-2.3%)    32.0   (+/-2.4%)    40.8   (+/-2.5%)
Ohio           21.5   (+/-2.5%)    78.5   (+/-2.5%)    38.0   (+/-3.1%)    40.5   (+/-3.2%)
Oklahoma       28.5   (+/-2.4%)    71.5   (+/-2.4%)    30.0   (+/-2.4%)    41.5   (+/-2.7%)
Oregon         35.7   (+/-2.1%)    64.3   (+/-2.1%)    20.8   (+/-1.6%)    43.5   (+/-2.1%)
Pennsylvania   28.7   (+/-1.7%)    71.3   (+/-1.7%)    25.8   (+/-1.6%)    45.5   (+/-1.9%)
South Carolina 21.7   (+/-2.0%)    78.3   (+/-2.0%)    31.7   (+/-2.2%)    46.6   (+/-2.4%)
South Dakota   26.2   (+/-2.3%)    73.8   (+/-2.3%)    30.0   (+/-2.4%)    43.8   (+/-2.5%)
Tennessee      22.0   (+/-1.7%)    78.0   (+/-1.7%)    39.8   (+/-2.0%)    38.2   (+/-1.9%)
Texas          26.5   (+/-2.7%)    73.5   (+/-2.7%)    28.3   (+/-2.7%)    45.3   (+/-3.1%)
Utah           28.5   (+/-2.3%)    71.5   (+/-2.3%)    22.2   (+/-2.2%)    49.3   (+/-2.5%)
Vermont        34.5   (+/-2.2%)    65.5   (+/-2.2%)    24.0   (+/-1.9%)    41.5   (+/-2.3%)
Virginia       31.4   (+/-2.5%)    68.6   (+/-2.5%)    23.7   (+/-2.3%)    44.9   (+/-2.6%)
Washington     33.4   (+/-1.8%)    66.6   (+/-1.8%)    18.3   (+/-1.4%)    48.4   (+/-1.9%)
West Virginia  19.8   (+/-2.0%)    80.2   (+/-2.0%)    44.1   (+/-2.2%)    36.1   (+/-2.3%)
Wisconsin      29.1   (+/-2.8%)    70.9   (+/-2.8%)    25.7   (+/-2.7%)    45.2   (+/-3.1%)
Wyoming        35.1   (+/-3.3%)    64.9   (+/-3.3%)    21.0   (+/-2.5%)    43.9   (+/-3.4%)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
*  n=105,390.
+  Activity meeting either the recommendation for regular vigorous physical activity (>=20
   minutes per day of vigorous physical activity on >=3 days per week) or the recommendation
   for regular sustained physical activity (an average of >=30 minutes per day of
   activity on >=5 days per week).
&  Combination of those with no leisure-time physical activity and those with irregular
   activity.
@  Did not meet the recommended criteria for either regular sustained or regular vigorous
   physical activity.
** Confidence interval.
==============================================================================================

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