Women's Health USA 2007
Photographs of women's faces
Health Status > Health Indicators
Activity Limitations and Disabilities

Although there are many different ways to define a disability, one common guideline is whether a person is able to perform common activities—such as walking up stairs, standing or sitting for several hours at a time, grasping small objects, or carrying items such as groceries— without assistance. In 2005, almost 14 percent of the U.S. population reported having at least one condition that limited their ability to perform one or more of these common activities. Women were more likely to report being limited in their activities than men (15.1 versus 12.5 percent).

Among women with at least one activity limitation, the conditions that caused specific activity limitations varied by age. Activity limitations caused by heart problems were most common among women over 75 years (18.7 percent), and least common among women under 45 years (4.6 percent). Older women were also more likely to report limitations due to arthritis: 37.3 percent of women 75 years or older and 35.3 percent of those aged 65–74 years. Conversely, limitations caused by depression, anxiety, or emotional problems were most common among women under 45 years (21.0 percent), and back or neck problems were most common among those aged 45–64 years (26.1 percent) followed by 18- to 44-year-olds (23.1 percent).

In 2005, the percentage of women reporting at least one activity limitation varied by race and ethnicity (data not shown). Non-Hispanic White and non-Hispanic Black women were most likely to report at least one limitation (16.1 percent), while Asians were least likely (4.9 percent). Eleven percent of Hispanic women reported at least one activity limitation.


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Women's Health USA 2007 is not copyrighted. Readers are free to duplicate and use all or part of the information contained on this page. Suggested Citation: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Women's Health USA 2007. Rockville, Maryland: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2007.