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Missoula Measures - Physical Activity

graph montana and missoula adults who report no physical acitivity


Why this topic?

Physical activity is key to living a healthy life. Exercise helps control weight. Physically active people also tend to live longer and have lower risks for many diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. General recommendations are for 30 to 60 minutes a day of physical activity for adults, and at least 60 minutes a day for children and adolescents. About 2/3 of Americans don’t get the recommended amount of physical activity. CDC State Indicator Report on Physical Activity 2014.

The Physical Activity objectives for Healthy People 2020 reflect the strong state of the science supporting the health benefits of regular physical activity among youth and adults, as identified in the PAG. Regular physical activity includes participation in moderate and vigorous physical activities and muscle-strengthening activities.

While working out at a health club can result in improved physical function, just plain physical activity of any kind has been shown to be beneficial.  Such activities as walking to do errands, parking far from the store, mowing the lawn, playing with children, gardening, even walking the dog, are low-cost ways to stay active.

For people who are inactive, even small increases in physical activity are associated with health benefits.

Healthy People 2020

How are we doing?

In 2013, 23% of Montanan adults and 21% of the US population reported that they got enough activity and muscle strengthening exercise to meet health guidelines.  BRFSS


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The Healthy People 2020 target

  Baseline 2008 Target
Percent of adults who engage in moderate aerobic physical activity 44% 48%

The US Dept of Health and Human Services sponsors the Healthy People objectives, a science-based, 10-year national plan for improving the health of all Americans.

Graph showing moderate physical activity by income.

Montana BRFSS, 1998 - new data coming 2012


Graph showing moderate physical activity by age.

Montana BRFSS, 1998 - new data coming 2012

Related data

Percentages of 1998 Physical Activity in Montanans in relationship to age, education, income, race (Source: Montana BRFSS 1998) Physical Activity and Demographics.

Montana Youth Risk Behavior Trend Data - Physical Activity
Risk Behavior - % of students who . . . 1999 2001 2003 2007 2009 2011 2013
Watched 3 or more hours of TV on average school day 24 23 25 22 25 21 21

Montana YRBS Trend Data

Further YRBS trend data

More related data

The Physical Activity objectives for 2020 highlight how physical activity levels are positively affected by:

Why is physical activity important?

Regular physical activity can improve the health and quality of life of Americans of all ages, regardless of the presence of a chronic disease or disability. Among adults and older adults, physical activity can lower the risk of:

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Brief background


Barriers to exercise

Personal, social, economic, and environmental factors all play a role in physical activity levels among youth, adults, and older adults. Understanding the barriers to and facilitators of physical activity is important to ensure the effectiveness of interventions and other actions to improve levels of physical activity.

Factors POSITIVELY associated with adult physical activity include:

Factors NEGATIVELY associated with adult physical activity include:

Older adults may have additional factors that keep them from being physically active including lack of social support, lack of transportation to facilities, fear of injury, and cost of programs.

Among children ages 4 to 12, the following factors have a positive association with physical activity:

Among adolescents ages 13 to 18, the following factors have a positive association with physical activity:

Environmental influences positively associated with physical activity among children and adolescents include:

People with disabilities may be less likely to participate in physical activity due to physical, emotional, and psychological barriers. Barriers may include the inaccessibility of facilities and the lack of staff trained in working with people with disabilities.

Healthy People 2020

Aerobics Vs. Strength Training

Approximately 15% of U.S. adults exercise vigorously. 1996 Surgeon General Report on Physical Activity and Health Vigorous physical activity (20 to 30 minutes of continuous aerobic exercise three or more days per week) strengthens the heart, lungs, and blood vessels so that they can meet the body’s demand for blood and nutrients. Aerobic exercise improves heart and lung functioning by boosting the body’s consumption of oxygen.

Muscular strength is the ability of a muscle group to exert maximum force against resistance. Strong muscles provide greater endurance, more power, and resistance to fatigue. They also help maintain correct posture. If muscles are used regularly and vigorously, they will increase in size and improve in strength. Strength training contributes to better balance, coordination, and agility. NIH


There is an inverse relationship between measures of physical activity and indices of obesity in most U.S. population studies. It appears that increased physical activity is a vital part of healthy weight management, and pairing physical activity with a reduction of dietary intake can increase and maintain loss of weight and body fat (NIH).

Reports of BMI in 3rd grade in Missoula schools: 2009, 2010, 2011

From: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation report August 2008:

Though many promising policies have emerged to promote physical activity and good nutrition in communities, the report concludes that they are not being adopted or implemented at levels needed to turn around this health crisis.

“Despite widespread acknowledgement that obesity is endangering the health of millions of Americans, the country is still failing to respond clearly or comprehensively. We must work together, governments, schools and communities, to improve nutrition and increase physical activity for all ages. We must ensure that strong policies are implemented and enforced in every state, not only to help reverse existing obesity rates, but to prevent obesity among our nation’s children—and generations to come.”  Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., RWJF president and C.E.O.

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There is a strong inverse relationship between levels of education and no leisure time PA. According to BRFSS, 2000, of those reporting no leisure time physical activity:


Related websites

Missoula's Bicycle & Pedestrian Program

National BRFSS Trends Data

Missoulians on Bikes

Physical Activity and Health: A Report of the U.S. Surgeon General

Surgeon Generals Summary on Physical Activity

The Surgeon General's Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation

Links to health data, statistics and information from many national sources.

Healthy People 2020 - extensive background on national public health status of this topic and many others, Healthy People 2010


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