Recreation Management - Ideas and Solutions for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

October 2016


CDC: More Than One-Quarter of 50-Plus U.S. Adults Don't Exercise

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Despite the many benefits of moderate physical activity, 31 million Americans (28 percent) age 50 years and older are inactive—that is, they are not physically active beyond the basic movements needed for daily life activities. This finding comes from a recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Adults benefit from any amount of physical activity," said Janet E. Fulton, Ph.D., chief of CDC's Physical Activity and Health Branch and one of the authors of the report. "Helping inactive people become more physically active is an important step toward healthier and more vibrant communities."

CDC researchers analyzed data from the 2014 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System for all 50 states and the District of Columbia to examine patterns of inactivity among adults ages 50 and older by selected characteristics. Some of the findings include:

  • Inactivity was higher for women (29.4 percent) compared with men (25.5 percent).
  • The percentage of inactivity by race and ethnicity varied: Hispanics (32.7 percent), non-Hispanic blacks (33.1 percent), non-Hispanic whites (26.2 percent) and other groups (27.1 percent).
  • Inactivity significantly increased with age: 25.4 percent for adults 50 to 64 years old, 26.9 percent for people 65 to 74 years old, and 35.3 percent for people 75 years and older.
  • More adults with at least one chronic disease were inactive (31.9 percent) compared with adults with no chronic disease (19.2 percent).
  • By region, inactivity was highest in the South (30.1 percent), followed by the Midwest (28.4 percent) and in the Northeast (26.6 percent). It was lowest in the West (23.1 percent).
  • By states, the percentage of inactivity ranged from 17.9 percent in Colorado to 38.8 percent in Arkansas.
  • The percentage of inactivity decreased as education increased and also increased as weight status increased.

"This report helps us better understand and address differences in inactivity among adults 50 years and older," said Kathleen B. Watson, Ph.D., a epidemiologist in CDC's Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity and lead author of the report. "More work is needed to make it safer and easier for people of all ages and abilities to be physically active in their communities."

Everyone, including federal, state and local governments, transportation engineers and community planning professionals, and community organizations, can play a role in helping communities offer design enhancements and healthy lifestyle programs to create a culture that supports physical activity. CDC is working with state health departments to increase physical activity by increasing the number of communities that have pedestrian and bike-friendly master transportation plans.