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 Key Physical Activity Resources
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Data and Surveillance

image of pie chartAssessment of current levels of physical activity and inactivity is critical for defining the extent of the problem, guiding public health efforts, and evaluating progress toward national health objectives. A survey examines public health issues by asking a sample of the population about their health and lifestyles. The prevalence of health conditions or behaviors in a population is measured using survey data. A surveillance system is a series of surveys conducted again and again, monitoring long-term trends in public health. A surveillance system is used to examine public health issues across several years; to track the trends, compare health among groups of people, and determine whether something is improving or worsening for a specific group of people.

Data and Analysis

2001—2007 U.S. Physical Activity Statistics2001—2007 U.S. Physical Activity Statistics
What percent of the population in your city and state is physically active? Find out in the physical activity statistics database. Search by demographics and physical activity levels for a metropolitan area, state, or national estimate.

Healthy People 2010
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Healthy People 2010 presents a comprehensive, nationwide health promotion and disease prevention agenda. It is designed to serve as a roadmap for improving the health of all people in the United States during the first decade of the 21st century. The 467 Healthy People 2010 objectives are being tracked by 190 data sources, 15 objectives are for physical activity.

Prevalence of Regular Physical Activity Among Adults ― United States, 2001 and 2005
MMWR November 23, 2007 / 56(46);1209–1212
From 2001 to 2005, the prevalence of regular physical activity increased 8.6% among women overall (from 43.0% to 46.7%) and 3.5% among men (from 48.0% to 49.7%).
Also available in print-friendly formatPDF file (PDF-3290k)

Surveillance Systems

Explanation of US Physical Activity Surveys
Several different national surveys track physical activity in many age groups and at several levels for the United States national public health objectives. This section provides background information understanding and comparing the various physical activity surveys.

CDC Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS)
The BRFSS uses a population-based telephone survey to assess behavioral health risk factors of American adults since 1984. The BRFSS provides national and state data.

National Health Interview Survey (NHIS)
The NHIS is a household survey based at the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) that has used household interviews to provide national health statistics since 1957. Baseline statistics for Healthy People 2010 objectives and for the Leading Indicators for physical activity for adults come from this survey.

National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)
NHANES provides statistics about the health of Americans through a combination of personal interviews and direct physical examinations.

CDC Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS)
YRBSS monitors priority health risk behaviors that contribute markedly to the leading causes of death, disability, and social problems among youth and adults in the United States. The YRBSS includes national, state, and local school-based surveys of representative samples of 9th through 12th grade students.

Related  Resources

National Center for Health Statistics
A surveillance system and rich source of statistical information used as a public resource for health information.

International Physical Activity Questionnaires*
A set of instruments that can be used internationally to obtain comparable estimates of physical activity. There are two versions of the questionnaire. The short version is suitable for use in national and regional surveillance systems and the long version provide more detailed information often required in research work or for evaluation purposes.

Physical Activity Data and Surveillance Quick StartPDF file (PDF-54k)
This resource provides key references and tools for planning and implementing physical activity surveillance.

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* Links to non-Federal organizations found at this site are provided solely as a service to our users. These links do not constitute an endorsement of these organizations or their programs by CDC or the Federal Government, and none should be inferred. CDC is not responsible for the content of the individual organization Web pages found at these links.

Page last reviewed: July 22, 2008
Page last updated: July 22, 2008
Content Source: Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion