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30 Exercise Statistics & Facts That Will Get You Moving!

by Aleksandar Hrubenja

There are thousands of programs, books, and systems all dealing with exercise. Many self-proclaimed fitness experts are trying to sell you their ideas, products, and services. While their expertise might be questionable, the importance of exercise cannot be overstated.

Now, research revolving around exercise is still relatively new. That doesn’t, however, mean that there is none to be had, nor that you should ignore the facts that are out there. Let’s dive in and see what kind of relevant information and exercise statistics exist at this moment.

Key Exercise Statistics & Facts to Be Aware of in 2019:

  • 81% of adolescents are not sufficiently active, on a global level.
  • Obesity expenses cost the United States over 190 billion dollars annually.
  • Exercise lowers your heart disease risk by more than 20%.
  • There is a 50% decrease in diabetes 2 risk if you exercise regularly.
  • The risk of dementia is decreased by 30% through regular exercise.
  • Children spend more than 7 hours in front of a screen every day.
  • 40% of the diet of the average underage American consists of empty calories.
  • West Virginia is the most obese state, with 37% of adults being severely overweight.
  • People are more physically inactive in high-income countries.
  • You can get smarter if you exercise regularly.

General Fitness Statistics & Facts

Exercise Statistics - Fitness

1. Insufficient exercise is the leading modifiable risk factor for premature death.

(World Health Organization)

The World Health Organization reports a 20% to 30% increase in the risk of death for people who are not sufficiently active. One of the leading risk factors for an increase in global mortality, according to the physical activity facts gathered by the WHO, is a lack of physical activity.

2. Low physical fitness, not BMI, is a mortality predictor.

(The American Journal of Medicine)

Based on a study that included 29,257 men and women, all without cardiovascular diseases or diabetes issues, with a mean age of 53 years, it has been determined that a lower exercise capacity leads to greater mortality. The researchers also claim that the body mass index of the test subjects had a very limited impact.

3. Adults older younger than 65 need to have 150 minutes of moderate, or 75 of vigorous exercise per week.

(World Health Organization)

In its recommendations, and in line with relevant exercise statistics, the WHO proposes that all adults, aged 18 to 64 years, should have 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. This is equivalent to 75 minutes of intense exercise. Furthermore, 300 minutes of moderate exercise, or 150 of vigorous physical activity, can yield greater health benefits.

4. Exercise isn’t enough to lose weight.


It’s a well-known health and fitness facts that, in order to lose weight, people need to focus on their caloric intake, and not just on exercise. While exercise alone will provide people with numerous benefits, losing weight is tied to having a negative daily balance of calories.

A caloric deficit, which can be achieved through increased physical activity (but can just as well be caused by eating less food) is needed to shed some pounds. In fact, sedentary lifestyle statistics and data show that eating low levels of calories while being physically inactive won’t make one gain weight.

5. Children spend more than 7 hours in front of a screen, every day.

(US Department of Health and Human Services)

The physical activity facts gathered by the US Department of Health and Human Services points toward the substantial number of hours children spend in front of screens. Namely, the data states that children spend seven and a half hours playing video games, watching television, or in general spending time in front of their computers.

6. People are more physically inactive in high-income countries.

(World Health Organization)

People are more physically inactive in high-income countries when compared to low-income countries. The WHO states that in more prosperous nations 26% of men and 35% of women have not shown sufficient levels of physical activity. However, the workout statistics for poorer areas are somewhat more positive– it is reported that 12% of men and 24% of women are physically inactive.

American Nutritional & Physical Fitness Facts & Stats

Exercise Statistics - Physical Benefits

7. Obesity-related issues have an estimated cost of 190 billion dollars in the US.

(US Department of Health and Human Services)

One of the core factors for the rise of obesity is a lack of exercise. Illnesses, chronic diseases, disabilities, death tied to obesity and a lack of exercise in America have been estimated to cost the United States healthcare around 190 billion dollars per year.

8. The average American eats 20% more calories compared to 1983.

(Public Health)

The US Department of Agriculture reports that, compared to 1983, Americans are ingesting 20% more calories. Grain consumption and a higher fat intake most likely lead to these results. Furthermore, exercise statistics, as well as data dealing with human health in general, points out that this has also lead to an increase in the average body mass index of Americans.

9. America has 34,000 fitness centers.


While the data presented so far may not seem so encouraging for the United States, it should be noted that according to the latest fitness industry statistics, the country does have many fitness centers. This might serve as a way to counteract obesity and low exercise rates. In second place comes Brazil, with 30,000 centers. Germany is the leader in Europe, followed by Italy, while the United Kingdom comes in third.

10. 70% of American adults keep an eye on health indicators.

(Pew Research Centre)

Concerning average American exercise statistics and data, it has been shown that most US adults track certain health indicators for either themselves or for their loved ones. This includes tracking weight, exercise routines, sleep patterns, blood pressure, and even weight. Furthermore, people who suffer from chronic conditions track these indicators more often.

11. Only 53% of Americans meet the Physical Activity Guidelines for aerobic activity…

(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Roughly half of the American population meets the not-so-demanding Physical Activity Guidelines set by the US Department of Health and Human Services, in regard to aerobic activity. This includes all adults older than 18 years of age.

12. …and only 23% meet the Physical Activity Guidelines for muscle strengthening and aerobic activity.

(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

In line with the same exercise statistics from 2018, less than a quarter of Americans meet the guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities. In other words, less than 25% of United States citizens have a balanced approach to fitness, if any at all.

The Obesity Epidemic & American Exercise Statistics

Exercise Statistics - Obesity

13. Empty calories make up 40% of daily total calories for American children and adolescents.

(US Department of Health and Human Services)

Calories gained from simple sugars and solid fats, also known as empty calories, make up 40% of the daily intake for Americans from the ages of 2 to 18 years. These mostly come in the form of soda, dairy desserts, pizza, whole milk, fruit drinks, pizza, and grain desserts.

14. Americans eat 60% more fat compared to the 1950s.

(Public Health)

Physical activity trends over time need to incorporate the increase of American fat consumption that occurred in the last six decades. Compared to the 1950s, Americans take in around two-thirds more fat today.

15. West Virginia is the most obese state, with 37% of the adult population severely overweight.

(Centre for Disease Control and Prevention)

According to the obesity statistics we’ve gathered, West Virginia reports the highest rate of obesity for adults, being at more than 35%. This means that one-third of the population in this state is at risk of all the disadvantages obesity and a lack of exercise bring, including an increased heart attack risk, lower mobility, higher mortality…

16. At 22.3%, Colorado has the lowest adult obesity rate.

(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

At the other end of the spectrum of unhealthy American statistics, according to the data collected by the CDC, Colorado boasts the lowest adult obesity rate, at 22.3%. Colorado also has rather low rates of childhood and adolescent obesity, which are lower than 10%.

17. The lowest obesity rate for children in the US can be found in Utah, at 8.5%.

(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

The relationship between Americans and physical activity and healthy nutrition is a bit more positive in Utah. Namely, the lowest obesity rate for children in the United States of America is reported in Utah, being less than 9%.

18. At 22.8%, the highest children’s obesity rate in the US can be found in Delaware.

(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

The state of Delaware reports a 22.8% obesity rate for children and adolescents, the highest among the States, but excluding the Territories.

Global Exercise Facts & Statistics

Exercise Statistics - Global

19. 56% of WHO member states have policies to counteract the lack of physical activity.

(World Health Organization)

Many World Health Organization member states have implemented policies that should help minimize these physical inactivity issues. They note the many benefits of exercise within their plans and policies, which have been developed in over 80% of WHO member states. Slowly, these are being implemented on a national and local level.

20. On a global scale, 81% of adolescents are not sufficiently active.

(World Health Organization)

The WHO notes that 78% of adolescent boys, aged 11 to 17 years of age, are not sufficiently active, on a global level. For adolescent girls of the same age range, the levels of inactivity are even higher, with 84% of girls not getting the benefits of physical activity. Factors such as pollution, traffic, a lack of recreational facilities, or simply crime in outdoor areas, leads adolescents to stay indoors.

21. Exercise reduces depression symptoms in children.

(AAP News & Journals)

A paper published in the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics shows that moderate to vigorous physical activity practiced by children aged six to eight years old leads to a decrease in depression symptoms two years later. Exercise and mental health statistics indicate that this type of physical activity can serve as a complementary method to regulate depression in children.

22. Adults without a high school degree have a higher rate of obesity compared to college graduates.

(Center for Disease Prevention and Control)

The CDC, according to the college students’ exercise statistics it has gathered, reports that college graduates have the lowest rates of obesity (22.7%), while those without a high school degree have the highest rates (35.6%). This number becomes lower with each further level of education, with 32.9% of high school graduates self-report obesity, while adults with some college education report 31.9%.

The Many Physical Benefits of Exercise

Exercise Statistics - Weights

23. Physical exercise lowers the risk of heart disease by over 20%.

(National Centre for Biotechnological Information)

In a meta-analysis of 21 prospective studies, it has been found that there is a 21% reduction of Coronary Heart Disease instances in men who regularly exercise. The numbers are even higher for women, represented as a 29% decrease. They have also noticed that improved fitness leads to decreased mortality during cardiac rehabilitation. The exercise facts and statistics clearly point towards the benefits exercise has for heart conditions.

24. Regular exercise greatly reduces bone mineral density loss.

(The New England Journal of Medicine)

A clinical trial that involved over 160 obese adults, published in 2017, pointed towards the many benefits exercise has to offer. Namely, there were many improvements, like positive outcomes for frailty measures, physical functions, and body composition.

However, the research also reported a decrease in bone mineral density loss. As one of the more interesting fitness facts, the subjects who did not do any exercise during the trial had a 3% decrease in bone mineral density, while the ones who did exercise had only 1%, a third of the control group.

25. Regular physical activity lowers type 2 diabetes risk by almost 50%.

(UK National Health Service)

The UK’s National Health Service states that exercise can greatly reduce your type 2 diabetes risk. The data has shown that exercise is very useful for managing diabetes, and that being physically active on a regular basis will lower your risk of developing many chronic conditions, diabetes being just one of them.

Exercise Strengthens Your Mind as Well

Exercise Statistics - Mental Benefits

26. There are reports of a 30% decrease in dementia risk among those who exercise regularly. 

(The UK’s National Health Service and Dementia Australia)

People who exercise regularly have a much lower chance of developing dementia, as well as other mental issues, taking Alzheimer’s as an example. The reason behind this fact is that it most likely encourages blood flow to the brain, as well as improving the survival and growth of new brain cells. So while dementia isn’t one of the diseases caused by unhealthy eating habits or lack of exercise, it can still be mitigated through regular physical activity.

27. Regular exercise will enhance your memory.

(Harvard Health Publishing)

The University of British Columbia had a study done where researchers tested the effects exercise has on the human hippocampus. This area is involved in verbal memory and learning. The exercise stats and the data acquired through this research points out that physical activity has indeed increased the size of this section of the brain.

28. Exercise improves your mental health.

(National Centre for Biotechnological Information)

It should be noted that over 37% of the world’s adult population will experience depression in one form or another. Certain mental issues cannot be regulated without the assistance of professional therapy and medication.

However, according to exercise and stress statistics, lifestyle changes have been proven effective in treating or at least minimizing the symptoms of depression and anxiety. An article published in the Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry claims that regular physical activity improves self-esteem and cognitive functions while reducing stress.

29. Over 60% of physically active individuals report better sleep.

(The National Sleep Foundation)

A poll made by the National Sleep Foundation in America has found that over 60% of people who practice regular vigorous exercise report good to high sleep quality. Furthermore, the same poll has shown that exercise before bed does not adversely influence sleep quality. The research concerning exercise benefits statistics is clear, quality sleep being just one oft-neglected advantage.

30. Exercise can make you smarter.


Reports have shown that older people who practice gardening or take leisurely walks tend to score better on tests that measure their attention and memory. Furthermore, children have better grades and concentrate better when they walk to school.


Exercise Statistics - Track

There are numerous benefits of exercise, ranging from lowering the odds of you developing dementia, down to minimizing the risk of diabetes and coronary heart disease. It can also boost your IQ, and improve your mental health.

Exercise statistics and trends show that the American diet has become much worse in the last fifty years, with more empty calories and fats being consumed compared to the 1950s. With obesity costing the USA nearly 200 billion dollars per year, regular exercise can not only improve the life of the individual, but it can also strengthen the economy of the country said individual lives in.

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