Inadequate physical activity and health care expenditures in the United States

Prog Cardiovasc Dis. 2015 Jan-Feb;57(4):315-23. doi: 10.1016/j.pcad.2014.08.002. Epub 2014 Aug 9.


This study estimates the percentage of health care expenditures in the non-institutionalized United States (U.S.) adult population associated with levels of physical activity inadequate to meet current guidelines. Leisure-time physical activity data from the National Health Interview Survey (2004-2010) were merged with health care expenditure data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (2006-2011). Health care expenditures for inactive (i.e., no physical activity) and insufficiently active adults (i.e., some physical activity but not enough to meet guidelines) were compared with active adults (i.e., ≥150minutes/week moderate-intensity equivalent activity) using an econometric model. Overall, 11.1% (95% CI: 7.3, 14.9) of aggregate health care expenditures were associated with inadequate physical activity (i.e., inactive and insufficiently active levels). When adults with any reported difficulty walking due to a health problem were excluded, 8.7% (95% CI: 5.2, 12.3) of aggregate health care expenditures were associated with inadequate physical activity. Increasing adults' physical activity to meet guidelines may reduce U.S. health care expenditures.

Keywords: BMI; Body Mass Index; Exercise; Health care; Health expenditures; MEPS; Medical Expenditure Panel Survey; NHIS; National Health Interview Survey; Physical activity; U.S.; United States.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Capital Expenditures / statistics & numerical data*
  • Demography
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity
  • Public Health* / economics
  • Public Health* / methods
  • Public Health* / statistics & numerical data
  • Social Validity, Research
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States