Jan. 27, 2023 – Most American adults are not meeting physical activity guidelines, the CDC said this week. 

Only 24.2% of of people who did the 2020 National Health Interview Survey met guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities, according to the CDC, while 22.7% met only the guidelines for aerobic activity, and 6.8% met only the muscle-strengthening activity guidelines. 

The CDC said 46.3% of those surveyed did not meet guidelines for either type of activity.

CDC guidelines call for adults to spend at least 150 minutes per week on aerobic exercises at a moderate intensity level and to lift weights or do other muscle-strengthening exercises at least 2 days a week.

People in large metro areas were more likely to meet the guidelines, the CDC also found. 

Among big-city dwellers, 27.8% met both guidelines, 50% met the aerobic guideline, and 35.2% met the muscle-training guideline. Among non-metro residents, 16.1% met both guidelines, 38.2% met aerobic guidelines, and 21.1% met muscle-training guidelines.

Residents of Western states were more likely to meet the guidelines than other regions. Meeting both guidelines were 28.5% of Western residents, 24.4% of Northeastern residents, 23.4% of Midwestern residents, and 22% of people in the South.

The CDC said the government should find ways to get people outside of metro areas to meet physical activity guidelines. 

“A national paradigm shift is needed to build structural capacity through investments in human, informational, organizational, fiscal, and physical resources and to implement policy, systems, and environment changes to impact population level physical activity across the United States, and especially outside of large metropolitan areas,” the CDC said.

The report has limitations, the CDC noted. The data was collected during the COVID pandemic, which affected physical behaviors; self-reported physical activity is prone to “recall bias”; and the assessment didn’t take physical activity from transportation or occupations into account, the federal agency said. 

Show Sources


CDC. “Prevalence of Meeting Aerobic, Muscle-Strengthening, and Combined Physical Activity Guidelines During Leisure Time Among Adults, by Rural-Urban Classification and Region – United States, 2020,” “Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans,” “Physical Activity Among Adults Aged 18 and Over: United States, 2020.”


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