Knowledge of Physical Activity Guidelines Among Adults in the United States, HealthStyles 2003−2005

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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We estimated percentages of US adults (≥18 years) who knew that prior federal physical activity (PA) guidelines call for a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity PA most days(≥5)/week using 2003 to 2005 HealthStyles, an annual mail survey.


10,117 participants identified “the minimum amount of moderate-intensity PA the government recommends to get overall health benefits.” Response options included 30/≥5, 20/≥3, 30/7, and 60/7 (minutes/days per week), “none of these,” and “don’t know.” The odds of correctly identifying the guideline was modeled by participant sex, age, race/ethnicity, income, education, marital status, body mass index, physical activity level, and survey year using logistic regression.


25.6% of respondents correctly identified the guideline. Women were 30% more likely to identify the guideline than men (Odds Ratio [95% Confidence Limits] (OR) = 1.28 [1.15, 1.44]). Regular PA was positively associated with identifying the guideline versus inactivity (OR = 2.08 [1.73, 2.50]). Blacks and those earning <$15,000 annually were 24% to 32% less likely to identify the guideline than whites and those earning >$60,000, respectively.


Most adults did not know the previous moderate-intensity PA recommendation, which indicates a need for effective communication strategies for the new 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Adults.

The authors are with the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA.