U.S. Adults’ Participation in Specific Activities: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System—2011

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health


There is little information on national estimates for participation in types of aerobic activities among U.S. adults. Current estimates are important to develop appropriate and effective interventions to promote physical activity and interpret bias for some activities measured with devices.


The percentage of adults participating in specific aerobic activities was estimated overall and by demographic subgroups. The 2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System respondents (N = 446,216) reported up to 2 aerobic activities they spent the most time doing during the past month.


Overall, walking (47%) was the most common activity reported and was reported more by women (54%) than men (41%). Participation in most activities declined with increasing age (P < .006). There were a number of differences in participation between race/ethnic subgroups. Participation increased with more education (P for trend < 0.006) for all activities. Participation in most activities was different (P < .002) across BMI subgroups.


Walking is the most common activity, overall and among most subgroups. Other activity profiles differ by demographic subgroup. Physical activity promotion strategies that focus on identifying and addressing personal and environmental barriers and understanding demographic subgroup differences could lead to more tailored interventions and public health programs.

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

Watson (iyr4@cdc.gov) is corresponding author.