Study: 1 in 4 Americans Totally Inactive

Patient Expert

How have you done on your New Year's resolutions? How about making a resolution for 2015 (even though we're a quarter of the way done with this year)? If you do want to recommit to a goal, I'd encourage you to find ways to get more physically active - and invite your family members, friends and others to join you That's because more Americans are being too sedentary and our activity levels have continued to decline since 2009, according to a new study by the Physical Activity Council.

The study found that 82.7 million Americans - slightly more than one in four Americans -- were totally inactive in 2014 and did not participate in any of the 104 sports or activities like individual sports, team sports, camping, walking and stretching that were identified by the researchers.   Inactivity was defined as participants who reported that they didn't take part in any physical activity in 2014 or they participated in 16 sports/fitness activities that required minimal or no physical exertion. "With the economy bouncing back and having more extreme weather conditions in 2014, more people choose other commitments than physical activity," the report's authors stated.

Activities by age range

The study found that Americans' inactivity levels increase as we grow older. The inactivity rates by age range in 2014 were:

  • Ages 6-12 - 19.5 percent
  • Ages 13-17 - 20 percent
  • Ages 18-24 - 25.4 percent
  • Ages 25-34 - 25.8 percent
  • Ages 35-44 - 24.3 percent
  • Ages 45-54 - 29.7 percent
  • Ages 55-64 - 34.8 percent
  • Ages 65 and older - 39.4 percent

Involvement in activities

Americans were more likely to go to the gym and less likely to swim or take part in racquet sports. In 2014, respondents reported taking part in the following activities:

  • Fitness activities - 61 percent
  • Outdoor activities - 48.4 percent
  • Individual sports - 35.4 percent
  • Team sports - 22.4 percent
  • Water sports - 13.9 percent
  • Racquet sports - 13.5 percent

Activities by generation

Most of the generations (Baby Boomers who were born between 1945-1964; Gen X, who were born between 1965-1979; Millennials, who were born between 1980-1999; and Gen Z, who were born in 2000 and later) participated in fitness activities. The younger generations Millennials and Gen Z -- were more apt to take part in individual sports and team sports.   The researchers' analysis found:

  • Individual sports - Boomers, 20 percent; Gen X, 39.7 percent; Millennials, 43.7 percent; and Gen Z, 49.1 percent.
  • Racquet sports - Boomers, 7.4 percent; Gen X, 14 percent; Millennials, 20 percent; and Gen Z, 18.7 percent.
  • Team sports - Boomers, 6.3 percent; Gen X, 17.4 percent; Millennials, 32.1 percent; and Gen Z, 57.3 percent.
  • Outdoor activities - Boomers, 38.3 percent; Gen X, 51.9 percent; Millennials, 47.7 percent; and Gen Z, 62.4 percent.
  • Water sports - Boomers, 9 percent; Gen X, 14.9 percent; Millennials, 20.1 percent; and Gen Z, 16 percent.
  • Fitness activities - Boomers, 59.3 percent; Gen X, 66.1 percent; Millennials, 66.2 percent; and Gen Z, 50 percent.

So now that the temperatures are starting to warm up in most of the nation, I'd encourage you to head outdoors and enjoy the spring weather by participating in your favorite activity! You will find me (and my dog) on the walking trails!

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Primary Resource for This Sharepost:

Jacobs, C. (2015). 82.7 Million Americans Totally Inactive in 2014. Physical Activity Council.

Physical Activity Council. (2015). 2015 Participant Report.