Physical Inactivity

Percentage of adults who report no leisure-time physical activity in the past 30 days

PLACES Project, Centers for Disease Control. Data from 2021, 1 year modeled estimate.
Dashboard-City Average

Why do we measure physical inactivity?

Globally, one in four adults does not get adequate physical activity, and around 300,000 deaths in the U.S. are the result of physical inactivity and poor eating habits, according to estimates by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.1,2 Physical activity has significant health benefits and is key to preventing or reducing the severity of diseases including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, breast cancer, and colorectal cancer.2,3 Mental health symptoms for people with depression and anxiety also improve with physical activity.4 Even being active for 15 minutes a day can provide health benefits.5

How do we measure physical inactivity?

This metric includes adults, age 18 or older, who report getting no leisure-time physical activity in the past month.

Strengths and Limitations

Strengths of Metric

Limitations of Metric

• Measuring physical inactivity can bring attention to groups who could benefit from improved neighborhood walkability, increased green space, community exercise programs, and other changes to their physical environment.6

• The physical inactivity metric is restricted to adults age 18 or older and does not provide information about children.

• This metric only measures respondents who do not get any physical activity, but it does not identify individuals who get some, but not enough, physical activity.

• The metric is self-reported and depends on the accuracy of the person surveyed.  



Physical inactivity is calculated by the following formula:

Physical Inactivity Calculation

For more information on the calculation, please refer to the City Health Dashboard Technical Documentation.

Data Source

Estimates for this metric are from one year modeled PLACES Project Data (formerly 500 Cities Project) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Multi-year data are available for this metric. For more information, please refer to Using Multi-Year Data: Tips and Cautions


  1. World Health Organization. Physical activity. Updated October, 2022. Accessed June 14, 2023.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Physical Inactivity. Updated May 20, 2022. Accessed June 14, 2023.

  3. Lee IM, Shiroma EJ, Lobelo F, Puska P, Blair SN, Katzmarzyk PT. Impact of Physical Inactivity on the World’s Major Non-Communicable Diseases. Lancet (London, England). 2012;380(9838):219-229.

  4. Harris MA. The relationship between physical inactivity and mental wellbeing: Findings from a gamification-based community-wide physical activity intervention. Health Psychol Open. 2018 Jan 16;5(1):2055102917753853. doi: 10.1177/2055102917753853. PMID: 29372067;PMCID: PMC5774736.

  5. Wen CP, Wai JP, Tsai MK, et al. Minimum amount of physical activity for reduced mortality and extended life expectancy: a prospective cohort study. Lancet (London, England). 2011;378(9798):1244-1253.

  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Adults Need More Physical Activity. Updated March 16, 2022. Accessed June 14, 2023.

Last updated: July 27, 2023