Regular physical activity promotes health, psychological well-being, and a healthy body weight; enhances independent living; and improves one’s quality of life. To reduce the risk of chronic disease, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2005, recommended that adults engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, above usual activity at work or home on most, or preferably all, days of the week.1 For most people, greater health benefits can be obtained by engaging in more vigorous or longer periods of physical activity. The Healthy People 2010 objectives include increasing the percentage of adults participating in regular moderate or vigorous physical activity.2
In 2006, only 10.3 percent of women reported participating in adequate physical activity (defined as engaging in moderate-intensity physical activity for at least 30 minutes per day on a minimum of 5 days per week or vigorous-intensity activity for at least 20 minutes per day for a minimum of 3 days per week). While there was little variation between women and men engaging in adequate physical activity, the percentage of women reporting regular physical activity varied by race/ethnicity, age, and income. In 2006, non-Hispanic White women were more likely than women of other races/ethnicities to report adequate physical activity (12.0 percent). Hispanic women were least likely to report adequate physical activity (5.7 percent).
Among women in all income groups, rates of adequate physical activity peak during the ages of 25–44 years and decline as women grow older. In addition, among women in most age groups, those with higher income levels are more likely to engage in adequate physical activity. The women most likely to do so are those aged 25–44 years with incomes of 200 percent or more of poverty (19.2 percent), compared to 13.4 percent of women in the same age group with incomes of 100–199 percent of poverty and 12.7 percent of women in the same age group with incomes less than 100 percent of poverty.
1 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; U.S. Department of Agriculture. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, January 2005.↑
2 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Healthy People 2010. 2nd ed. With Understanding and Improving Health and Objectives for Improving Health. 2 vols. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, November 2000.↑