Adult Physical Activity
Despite increases, a large majority of King County adults do not get sufficient physical activity.
Throughout King County, a large majority of adults do not get sufficient physical activity.
Physical activity is good for overall health and quality of life and reduces the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that all adults get at least 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic activity every week (or 75 minutes of vigorous activity, or an equivalent combination) and do muscle-strengthening activities at least two days a week. From 2013 to 2017, about one in four adults (24%) met these guidelines.
Additional health benefits are gained by engaging in more physical activity, and any amount of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity is beneficial. Most adults in King County do get some physical activity. Only 16% reported being completely sedentary in the past month in 2011-2015.
Region and city/neighborhood: Lack of enough physical activity was a problem throughout the county. 1 in 5 South Region adults (20%) were sufficiently active. Though rates in East Region (26%), North Region (28%) and Seattle (27%) were higher, almost 3 out of 4 adults still did not meet recommended levels of physical activity. All 3 city/neighborhoods with the lowest rates of physical activity were in South Region: Auburn-South (8%), Black Diamond/Enumclaw/Southeast County (16%), North Highline (12%). Even though Vashon Island had the highest rates, only 2 in 5 adults there (39%) were active enough.
Income: Adults in the highest-income households earning $75,000 were more likely than those with incomes less than $35,000 to be active enough. However, even among this high-income group, only about a quarter (26%) met physical activity recommendations.
Trends: Rates of getting adequate physical activity have increased slightly in King County, from 22% in 2011-2013 to 25% in 2015-2017.
Differences in opportunities for physical activity, leisure time and environmental factors are likely causes of many of these income and regional differences. Access to safe and affordable exercise and recreation, such as parks, open spaces, community centers, active transit, and walking and biking routes can vary greatly across King County.
Notes and Sources
Source: Washington State Department of Health, Center for Health Statistics, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, supported in part by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Cooperative Agreement NU58/DP006066-03-00 (2017).
The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System collects information on the health and safety of Washington residents aged 18 and older. Every year, the Washington State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conduct the survey primarily through telephone interviews, including landline and cellphone numbers. To learn more about the survey, please go to https://www.doh.wa.gov/DataandStatisticalReports/DataSystems/BehavioralRiskFactorSurveillanceSystemBRFSS.
Numerator: Respondents when asked about their physical activity and exercise habits in the past month, had done an average of at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity per week and muscle strengthening on 2 or more days a week that worked all major muscle groups.
Denominator: All those who answered the question.
For current physical activity guidelines, see: https://health.gov/paguidelines/second-edition/