Physical Activity Definitions Broadened to Include Daily Activities

Even moderate types of exercise provide health benefits. For that reason, a state-based survey, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the first time includes a broader definition of physical activity. The survey provides a more comprehensive picture of Americans? daily lifestyles and includes physical activity measures such as gardening, vacuuming, and brisk walking to do errands, in addition to more traditional forms of exercise.

The report published in the August 15 issue of MMWR, “New Physical Activity Measures include Lifestyle Activities, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) 2001” provides baseline data nationally and for each state and U.S. territory based upon the measurements used for 2001.

“Physical activity is not an all or nothing proposition, said HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson. “We cannot overstate how critical physical activity is for our good health and we want every American to understand that small steps toward a more physically active life yield significant health benefits.”

CDC, along with the American College of Sports Medicine, recommends adults ages 18 and older participate in a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days of the week. This study is the first BRFSS report to use the broader definition of physical activity and detail the percentage of people in each state who are meeting these recommendations. Even with the broader definition of exercise, however, only 45 percent of adults met the physical activity recommendations in 2001.

“It is important for all of us to remember that sedentary lifestyles increase our risk of obesity, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. The burden of these diseases can be reduced with a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity five or more days a week,” said CDC Director Dr. Julie L. Gerberding.

The 2001 lifestyle physical activity questions profiled respondents? activities in a usual week. The respondents were asked to recall moderate- and vigorous-intensity activities separately, thereby increasing the potential to recall less intense lifestyle activities.

The BRFSS is a population-based, random-digit-dialed telephone survey of adults aged 18 and older. The new report facilitates the transition from the 2000 BRFSS leisure-time activity questions to the updated lifestyle activity questions of the 2001 BRFSS by comparing overall U.S. and state-specific prevalence estimates for adults who meet recommendations from both survey years.

New Physical Activity Measures include Lifestyle Activities, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) 2001 is published in this week?s Morbidity and Mortality Report and can be found at .

For more information about physical activity recommendations, please visit the CDC web site at # # #

CDC protects people’s health and safety by preventing and controlling diseases and injuries; enhances health decisions by providing credible information on critical health issues; and promotes healthy living through strong partnerships with local, national, and international organizations.


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