News from the FDA/CDC

Physical activity prevalence shows urban/rural divide



More Americans are meeting federal physical activity guidelines, but there is a considerable difference in exercise prevalence between urban and rural populations, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Prevalence of meeting physical activity guidelines in adults

The prevalence of meeting the aerobic and muscle-strengthening recommendations in the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans rose from 18.2% of adults in 2008 to 24.3% in 2017, but despite that increase, “insufficient participation in physical activity remains a public health concern,” Geoffrey P. Whitfield, PhD, and his associates said in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

There was progress among both urban and rural residents, but those in rural areas were behind at the start of the study period in 2008 and remained behind in 2017. The prevalence of meeting the activity guideline started at 13.3% for rural residents and 19.4% for urbanites and rose to 19.6% and 25.3%, respectively, in 2017 – that’s an annual percentage point change of 0.5% for each population, the investigators reported. Rates among women were well below those of men in both populations.

Rural communities may lack the infrastructure, such as sidewalks, schoolyards, and parks, to support physical activities, or rural residents may get more exercise through occupational and domestic tasks, rather than through the leisure-time activities that are the focus of the National Health Interview Survey, which was the source of the study data, Dr. Whitfield and his associates suggested.

The 2008 federal guidelines recommend that adults get 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75-150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, along with muscle-strengthening activities of at least moderate intensity involving all major muscle groups on 2 or more days each week.

SOURCE: Whitfield GP et al. MMWR. 2019 Jun 14;68(23):514-8.

Next Article: