Adult Physical Inactivity Prevalence Maps by Race/Ethnicity

(January 2022) — Differences in the prevalence of physical inactivity in the United States exist by race/ethnicity and location, according to new CDC maps.

The data come from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), an ongoing state-based, telephone interview survey conducted by CDC and state health departments. This survey asked respondents if, in the past month, they did any physical activity outside of their regular job. People who said “no” were classified as inactive.

These maps use combined data from 2017 through 2020 for 52 jurisdictions: 49 states, the District of Columbia, and the territories of Guam and Puerto Rico. Data for New Jersey were not reported because data were not collected in 2019. Combining four years of data allowed analysis of physical inactivity among different racial and ethnic groups. Data from individual years is available through BRFSS.

Overall, the prevalence of physical inactivity was 25.3%.

Previous maps were released in January 2020 with data from 2015 through 2018. Two years in that analysis overlap with data in this analysis; therefore the two editions of maps should not be compared for trends.

The BRFSS question read: “During the past month, other than your regular job, did you participate in any physical activities or exercises such as running, calisthenics, golf, gardening, or walking for exercise?”

Race/Ethnicity

Overall, non-Hispanic Asian adults (20.1%) had the lowest prevalence of physical inactivity outside of work followed by non-Hispanic White (23.0%), non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native (29.1%), non-Hispanic Black (30.0%), and Hispanic adults (32.1%).

Physical activity can benefit everyone, but lack of access to safe and convenient places to be physically active may contribute to these racial and ethnic disparities.

  • 2 states (Alaska and Montana) and Guam had a physical inactivity prevalence of 30% or higher among non-Hispanic Asian adults.*
  • 5 states (Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and West Virginia) had a physical inactivity prevalence of 30% or higher among non-Hispanic White adults.
  • 27 states had a physical inactivity prevalence of 30% or higher among non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native adults.*
  • 23 states and the District of Columbia had a physical inactivity prevalence of 30% or higher among non-Hispanic Black adults.*
  • 25 states and Puerto Rico had a physical inactivity prevalence of 30% or higher among Hispanic adults.

*49 of 52 jurisdictions had sufficient data to be included in these results.

Tools to Help Achieve Health Equity

Tools to Help Achieve Health Equity

Location

The lowest prevalence of inactivity was 17.7% (Colorado), and the highest prevalence was 49.4% (Puerto Rico). Regionally, states in the South (27.5%) had the highest prevalence of physical inactivity, followed by the Midwest (25.2%), Northeast (24.7%), and West (21.0%).

  • 4 states (Colorado, Utah, Washington, and Vermont) had a physical inactivity prevalence of 17.7% to less than 20%.
  • 24 states and the District of Columbia had a physical inactivity prevalence of 20% to less than 25%.
  • 14 states and Guam had a physical inactivity prevalence of 25% to less than 30%.
  • 7 states (West Virginia, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Alabama, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Mississippi) and Puerto Rico had a physical inactivity prevalence of 30% or more.

What Can Be Done

Reducing physical inactivity requires a comprehensive effort from many groups—including states, communities, worksites, and individuals—to make it easier for everyone to move more. Community leaders, for example, can encourage school and youth physical activity programs, educate, and support families and individuals to be more active.

The racial and ethnic disparities in physical inactivity underscore the need to address barriers to physical activity. Examples include lack of safe spaces for physical activity such as parks, unsafe streets with high-speed traffic and no sidewalks, lack of time, and lack of social supports.

Everyone has a role to play to increase physical activity. Learn more about strategies to increase physical activity and get involved in Active People, Healthy NationSM, CDC’s national initiative to help 27 million people become more physically active by 2027.

Individuals and families are encouraged to build physical activity into their everyday routines. See recommended physical activity amounts for people ages 3 years and older.

Physical Inactivity Maps

Map: Overall Physical Inactivity

Prevalence of Self-Reported Physical Inactivity* Among US Adults by State and Territory, BRFSS, 2017–2020

Map details in table below

Source: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System
* Respondents were classified as physically inactive if they responded “no” to the following question: “During the past month, other than your regular job, did you participate in any physical activities or exercises such as running, calisthenics, golf, gardening, or walking for exercise?”
** Sample size <50, the relative standard error (dividing the standard error by the prevalence) ≥30%, or no data in at least 1 year.

Maps: Physical Inactivity by Race/Ethnicity

Prevalence of Self-Reported Physical Inactivity Among US Adults by Race/Ethnicity, State, and Territory, BRFSS, 2017–2020

Prevalence of Self-Reported Physical Inactivity* Among Non-Hispanic Asian Adults by State and Territory, BRFSS, 2017–2020

Map details in table below

Source: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System

* Respondents were classified as physically inactive if they responded “no” to the following question: “During the past month, other than your regular job, did you participate in any physical activities or exercises such as running, calisthenics, golf, gardening, or walking for exercise?”

** Sample size <50, the relative standard error (dividing the standard error by the prevalence) ≥30%, or no data in at least 1 year.

Prevalence of Self-Reported Physical Inactivity* Among Non-Hispanic White Adults by State and Territory, BRFSS, 2017–2020

Map details in table below

Source: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System

* Respondents were classified as physically inactive if they responded “no” to the following question: “During the past month, other than your regular job, did you participate in any physical activities or exercises such as running, calisthenics, golf, gardening, or walking for exercise?”

** Sample size <50, the relative standard error (dividing the standard error by the prevalence) ≥30%, or no data in at least 1 year.

Prevalence of Self-Reported Physical Inactivity* Among Non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native Adults by State and Territory, BRFSS, 2017–2020

Map details in table below

Source: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System

* Respondents were classified as physically inactive if they responded “no” to the following question: “During the past month, other than your regular job, did you participate in any physical activities or exercises such as running, calisthenics, golf, gardening, or walking for exercise?”

** Sample size <50, the relative standard error (dividing the standard error by the prevalence) ≥30%, or no data in at least 1 year.

Prevalence of Self-Reported Physical Inactivity* Among Non-Hispanic Black Adults by State and Territory, BRFSS, 2017–2020

Map details in table below

Source: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System

* Respondents were classified as physically inactive if they responded “no” to the following question: “During the past month, other than your regular job, did you participate in any physical activities or exercises such as running, calisthenics, golf, gardening, or walking for exercise?”

** Sample size <50, the relative standard error (dividing the standard error by the prevalence) ≥30%, or no data in at least 1 year.

Prevalence of Self-Reported Physical Inactivity* Among Hispanic Adults by State and Territory, BRFSS, 2017–2020

Map details in table below

Source: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System

* Respondents were classified as physically inactive if they responded “no” to the following question: “During the past month, other than your regular job, did you participate in any physical activities or exercises such as running, calisthenics, golf, gardening, or walking for exercise?”

** Sample size <50, the relative standard error (dividing the standard error by the prevalence) ≥30%, or no data in at least 1 year.

Related Information

  • Data, Trends, and Maps
    Interactive database with national and state data about the health status and behaviors of Americans, including physical activity and environmental and policy supports for physical activity.
  • PLACES: Local Data for Better Health
    Model-based population-level analysis and community estimates for all US counties, places (incorporated and census designated places), census tracts, and ZIP Code Tabulation Areas. PLACES includes data on physical inactivity.
  • Health Equity Data Resources
    Materials that provide information and strategies to help communities, programs, and initiatives work to remove barriers to health and achieve health equity.
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