Healthy and Active

Desired Trend


Current Trend

Baseline (2011): 49.5%
Current (2019): 47.0%

Theme Distinctive


Percent of adults meeting recommended exercise standard

Why is it Important?

Exercise is critical for health and well-being. Regular physical activity has many health benefits. Some of the benefits identified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHSS) include improved bone health, reduced risk of cancer, reduced anxiety, improved sleep, reduced risk of fall-related injuries, and overall increase in health-related quality of life.1 There are many factors that influence how often people exercise, including safety of the community, the availability of trails, sidewalks, and bicycle facilities, and the existence of routes to school, work, or other important destinations,2

In 2008, the first national guidelines on physical activity were released and the second edition was released in 2018. The aerobic physical activity standard calls for at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week. This indicator measures the percent of adults that meet the aerobic physical activity guidelines. In the 2018 guidelines, DHSS also recommends that adults engage in muscle-strengthening activities of moderate or greater intensity two or more days a week. While identified as important to health, the muscle-strengthening activity is not included under the aerobic exercise standard and is therefore not included in this metric.

How are we Doing?

In 2019, 47 percent of adults in the St. Louis region met the recommended exercise standard. This is a decrease from the baseline year (2011), when about 49.5 percent of adults in the region met the standard. The percentage was about 49 to 50 percent for 2011, 2013, 2015, and 2017 survey years. Survey questions were updated in 2011 to reflect the new physical activity guidelines and therefore earlier data is not directly comparable.

In 2019, the St. Louis MSA ranked  41st among the 48 peer regions for which data are available. The percentage of adults meeting the exercise standard in St. Louis is 3.4 percentage points lower than that of the United States as a whole. The peer regions with the highest rates are Portland and Minneapolis, where almost 60 percent of adults meet the standard. 

Healthy and Active Exercise

Geographic Level

St. Louis Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). View map.


1 Physical Activity Guidelines from Americans 2nd Edition, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2018, accessed on 24 February 2021 at

2 Harvard School of Public Health. “Environmental Barriers to Activity” Accessed on 29 July 2014 at



Data Sources

Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention