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Public Repository to Engage Community and Enhance Design Equity

Physical Inactivity

Physical inactivity refers to insufficient engagement in regular exercise. Providing safe spaces for physical activity or improving the walkability of a neighborhood may increase a community’s physical activity, which in turn can decrease risks of chronic conditions and improve mental health outcomes.


Physical inactivity is characterized as not getting the recommended level of regular physical activity. Adequate physical activity is characterized as at least 150 minutes of moderate activity each week. It is estimated that 1 in 2 adults and 77% of high school students do not get enough aerobic physical activity.

Human Health Mechanism

Physical inactivity can lead to other serious health conditions like heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure and cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, cancer, feelings of anxiety, and decreased sleep quality.

Indicator Measurement

Data are available through the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) PLACES public dashboard and are collected from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), which is a state-based, telephone interview survey. BRFSS provides physical inactivity data by modeling the percentage of adults who report no leisure-time physical activity in the past 30 days.

Related Health Outcomes & Exposures

Walkability, Greenness, Heart Disease, Obesity, Diabetes, Mental Distress, High Blood Pressure, Diabetes


Click here for References
  1. Physical Inactivity Data Source: CDC. CDC PLACES: Physical Inactivity. Data year 2020. Accessed April 2023.
  2. Brittin J, Sorensen D, Trowbridge M, et al. Physical activity design guidelines for school architecture. PLOS ONE. 2015;10(7). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0132597
  3. CDC. Chronic Disease Fact Sheet: Physical Inactivity. Published February 21, 2023. Accessed October 19, 2023.
  4. City Health Dashboard. Metrics Background: Physical Inactivity. Updated July 27, 2023. Accessed October 19, 2023.
  5. Eitland E, Klingensmith L, MacNaughton P, et al. Schools For Health. 2017. Accessed October 19, 2023.
  6. Lee IM, Shiroma EJ, Lobelo F, et al. Effect of physical inactivity on major non-communicable diseases worldwide: an analysis of burden of disease and life expectancy. Lancet. 2012;380(9838):219-229. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)61031-9
  7. Harris MA. The relationship between physical inactivity and mental wellbeing: Findings from a gamification-based community-wide physical activity intervention. Health Psychol Open. 2018;5(1):2055102917753853. Published 2018 Jan 16. doi:10.1177/2055102917753853