Posted Sep 19 , 2017 02:17 AM

Walking for Transportation or Leisure Among U.S. Women and Men -
National Health Interview Survey, 2005–2015.

Ussery EN, et al. Morbid. Mortal. Weekly Report 2017;66(25) Jun 30

What were the findings (excerpted from the report)?

Physical activity confers considerable health benefits, but only half of U.S. adults report participating in levels of aerobic physical activity consistent with guidelines. The National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) periodically reports data on the rate of individuals who walk either for transportation or for leisure. Step It Up! The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities identified walking as an important public health strategy to increase physical activity levels. A previous report from the NHIS showed that the self-reported prevalence of walking for transportation or leisure increased by 6 percentage points from 2005 to 2010 (4), but it is unknown whether this increase has been sustained. CDC analyzed National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) data from 2005 (26,551 respondents), 2010 (23,313), and 2015 (28,877) to evaluate trends in the age-adjusted prevalence of self-reported walking among adults aged ≥18 years. The prevalence of walking increased steadily among women, from 57.3% in 2005, to 62.5% in 2010, and to 65.1% in 2015 (significant linear trend). Among men, a significant linear increase in reported walking was observed, from 54.3% in 2005, to 61.8% in 2010, and to 62.8% in 2015, although the increase stalled between 2010 and 2015 (significant linear and quadratic trends). Community design policies and practices that encourage pedestrian activity and programs tailored to the needs of specific population subgroups remain important strategies for promoting walking

Why is this important?

First, the good news…walking for transportation or leisure is increasing in both men and women! The survey does rely on individuals being honest when answering the questions, but assuming roughly the same level of honesty in surveys in 2005, 2010 and 2015 it appears people are walking more. It is important to know that the bar is set rather low in the questions from the survey [paraphrasing] (“did you walk for at least 10 minutes at least once in the last 7 days?”), which is significantly less than the 150 minutes or more of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity per week that is the current recommendation from the ADA for adults with type 2 diabetes. Among women in 2015, the lowest reported prevalence of walking was among those aged ≥65 years, non-Hispanic blacks, and residents of the South, compared with their respective counterparts. Among men in 2015, the lowest prevalence of walking was among blacks and Hispanics and the highest prevalence was among men in the West, compared with their respective counterparts. With the disproportionate rise in overweight and obesity in Hispanic and Black Americans, we need to redouble our efforts to engage minority communities in programs that promote walking as well as help increase the number of safe areas for walking within all communities. Do you have success in getting your patients with diabetes to walk more? What things have worked in your experience?

Read the Report