Physical inactivity

Physical Inactivity is the percentage of adults age 20 and over reporting no leisure-time physical activity. Examples of physical activities provided include running, calisthenics, golf, gardening, or walking for exercise.

Measure Tabs

Reason for Ranking

Decreased physical activity has been related to several disease conditions such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, stroke, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and premature mortality, independent of obesity. Inactivity causes 11% of premature mortality in the United States, and caused more than 5.3 million of the 57 million deaths that occurred worldwide in 2008.[1] In addition, physical inactivity at the county level is related to health care expenditures for circulatory system diseases.[2]

Measurement Strengths and Limitations

When comparing estimates of obesity, physical inactivity and diabetes included in this year's release with prior releases, caution should be used due to changes in the BRFSS methodology. More information can be found here:

Caution should be used when comparing these estimates across state lines, particularly when comparing bordering states. The model used to create these estimates includes a state-level factor that limits comparability between neighboring counties of adjacent states.

This measure has several limitations. The data are from self-reported measures. Some individuals may report activities as physically active while others may not; e.g., household cleaning. The data only refer to time spent inactive during leisure time and do not account for inactivity while at work. Additionally, the degree of intensity of exercise and duration are unknown for individuals who report leisure-time physical activity.

A final limitation of the data is that they do not include data on childhood activity levels. This information would provide a more comprehensive measure of the current and future health risks of a county.