Walking trends among U.S. adults: the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 1987-2000

Am J Prev Med. 2003 Aug;25(2):95-100. doi: 10.1016/s0749-3797(03)00112-0.


Objective: To examine trends in walking among adults in 31 states.

Methods: Trends by sociodemographic strata were analyzed from respondents who participated in the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS).

Results: The prevalence of walking among men increased 3.8% (95% confidence interval [CI]=2.4-5.2), from 26.2% (95% CI=25.1-25.3) in 1987 to 30.1% (95% CI=29.4-30.8) in 2000. In women, walking increased 6.6% (95% CI=5.4-7.8), from 40.4% (95% CI=-39.4-41.1) to 46.9% (95% CI=46.2-47.6) during the same time period. However, the prevalence of walking three times a week for 30 minutes duration remained constant across all years. The largest increases occurred in minority subpopulations: 8.7% (95% CI=3.2-14.2) in Hispanic women, 8.5% (95% CI=4.4-12.6) non-Hispanic black women, and 7.0% (95% CI=2.3-11.7) in non-Hispanic black men. Walking was the most frequently reported activity among adults who met the national recommendations for regular physical activity (defined as five or more times a week for > or =30 minutes per session).

Conclusions: Given the acceptability of walking across all sociodemographic subgroups, efforts to increase the frequency of walking could markedly increase the percentage of U.S. adults who engage in regular physical activity, a national priority identified in the Healthy People 2010 objectives for the nation.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S.
  • Educational Status
  • Ethnicity
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Health Promotion*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking
  • Time Factors
  • United States
  • Walking / statistics & numerical data
  • Walking / trends*