If you need a more accessible version of this website, click this button on the right.Switch to Accessible Site

Wilmington Chiropractor | Wilmington chiropractic care | NC | Nearly 40% Percent of Adults Are Sedentary in Leisure Time


(910) 256 2655

1904 Eastwood Rd. Suite 103
NC 28403

Nearly 40% Percent of Adults Are Sedentary in Leisure Time

By David Brown

Nearly 40 percent of American adults are sedentary in their leisure time, basically never exercising. In contrast, about 30 percent exercise on a regular basis , either vigorously several times a week, or even more often at lower intensity. The rest do something in between.

Regular exercise is more common in men than in women. It is also more common in the young and in the better educated. Whites are also more likely to exercise regularly or vigorously than blacks or Hispanics.

The information was collected as part of the National Health Interview Survey, which is conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics. Since 1957, interviewers have queried a representative sample of Americans about their health. In 1997, the survey was extensively revised and new exercise questions were added.

"Light-moderate physical activity" was defined as activity causing a light sweat and a slight increase in breathing or heart rate. "Vigorous activity" causes heavy sweating and large increases in breathing or heart rate. Only activity done during leisure time -- not on the job, in housework or as transportation -- was counted.

The new data are the combined results of the 1997 and 1998 surveys, in which a total of 68,556 people were interviewed. Most of the results have a margin of error of less than 1 percent. Among the findings:

  • Sixty-two percent of adults reported doing "at least some" exercise. This category was very inclusive: any light-moderate or vigorous activity lasting at least 10 minutes qualified, regardless of how often a person did it.
  • About 38 percent of adults are entirely sedentary in their leisure hours. For women, it's 41 percent; men, 35 percent; for people below poverty level, 57 percent; for people with incomes at least four times higher than poverty level, 24 percent; for southerners, 44 percent; for northeasterners, 38 percent; for westerners, 32 percent.
  • Among all adults, 31 percent reported "regular physical activity." This was defined as either light-moderate activity lasting 30 minutes or more at least five times a week, or vigorous activity lasting 20 minutes three times a week. Among people who never graduated from high school, 18 percent said they did that much activity. Among people with graduate degrees, the fraction was 45 percent.
  • About 12 percent of adults engaged in vigorous exercise five times a week or more. About 23 percent engaged in "strengthening activity," basically weight-lifting or calisthenics.

Rates of obesity and adult-onset diabetes are increasing. Both conditions can be worsened by inactivity, and ameliorated by exercise.

Washington Post April 8, 2002; Page A02

Wilmington Chiropractor | Nearly 40% Percent of Adults Are Sedentary in Leisure Time. Dr. Ashly Smith is a Wilmington Chiropractor.