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America's Young Adults: Special Issue, 2014

Leisure-Time Physical Activity

Regular leisure-time physical activity can benefit an individual's overall health and fitness. To achieve substantial benefits, including reduced risk of conditions such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, osteoporosis, depression, and the risk of premature death, it is recommended that young adults engage in aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities each week.38, 39 Physical activity can be beneficial for all young adults whether they are in generally good health or currently have chronic conditions or disabilities.40

Indicator Beh3: Percentage of young adults ages 18–24 who participated in both leisure-time aerobic and muscle-strengthening physical activities meeting the federal 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans by race and Hispanic origin, selected years 2005–2006 to 2011–2012
Percentage of young adults ages 18–24 who participated in both leisure-time aerobic and muscle-strengthening physical activities meeting the federal 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans by race and Hispanic origin, selected years 2005–2006 to 2011–2012

NOTE: The Department of Health and Human Services 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend for substantial health benefits, adults should do: (1) at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination; and (2) muscle-strengthening activities that are moderate or high intensity and involve all major muscle groups two or more days a week (http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/guidelines/chapter4.aspx). The revised 1997 Office of Management and Budget (OMB) standards for data on race and ethnicity were used to classify persons into racial groups. Data on race and Hispanic origin are collected separately. Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race.

SOURCE: National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Interview Survey.

  • In 2011–2012, 30 percent of young adults ages 18–24 met the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening leisure-time activities.
  • Between 2005–2006 and 2011–2012, the percentage of all young adults and White, non-Hispanic young adults meeting the guidelines increased. Between 2009–2010 and 2011–2012, there was an increase in the percentage of Hispanic young adults meeting the guidelines.
  • In 2011–2012, the percentage of young adults meeting the guidelines was higher among White, non-Hispanic (33 percent) young adults than among Black, non-Hispanic (22 percent) and Hispanic (27 percent) young adults.
  • The percentage of young adult males (40 percent) meeting the guidelines in 2011–2012 was double the percentage of females (20 percent).
  • In 2011–2012, the percentage of young adults meeting the guidelines was higher among young adults with family incomes 400 percent and above the poverty level (40 percent) compared with young adults with family incomes between 200 and 399 percent of the poverty level (29 percent), those with family incomes between 100 and 199 percent of the poverty level (27 percent), and those with family incomes below the poverty level (25 percent).

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38 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2008). 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (ODPHP Publication No. U0036). Retrieved from http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/pdf/paguide.pdf.

39 Carlson, S.A., Fulton, J.E., Schoenborn, C.A., and Loustalot, F. (2010). Trend and prevalence estimates based on the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 39(4), 305–313.

40 Rimmer, J.H. Developmental disability and fitness. Retrieved from http://www.nchpad.org/104/reference/Developmental~Disability~and~Fitness.