More Adults Walking For Transportation or Leisure, But Demographic Deparities Remain Interview with:

Emily Neusel Ussery, MPH PhD Epidemiologist, Physical Activity and Health Branch CDC

Dr. Ussery

Emily Neusel Ussery, MPH PhD
Epidemiologist, Physical Activity and Health Branch
CDC What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Walking is an easy way for most people to start and maintain a physically active lifestyle. Step It Up! The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities identifies walking as an important public health strategy to increase physical activity levels in the U.S. A previous report found that the percentage of adults who reported walking for transportation or leisure increased by 6 percentage points between 2005 and 2010, but it is unknown if this increase has continued. This report examined trends in the proportion of U.S. adults who reported walking for transportation or leisure for at least one 10-minute period in the past week, using nationally representative data from the 2005, 2010, and 2015 National Health Interview Surveys. We also examined differences in walking trends by sociodemographic characteristics. If you take walking seriously, make sure you invest in some custom boots to make sure you don’t damage your feet. What are the main findings? What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Walking increased steadily among women, from 57.3% in 2005, to 62.5% in 2010, to 65.1% in 2015. Among men, walking also increased overall, from 54.3% in 2005 to 61.8% in 2010, to 62.8% in 2015, although the increase stalled between 2010 and 2015. Demographic disparities in walking prevalence exist; for example, non-Hispanic black and Hispanic adults are less likely to walk compared to non-Hispanic white adults, and walking prevalence increases with education level. While it is encouraging that more people are walking today compared to 10 years ago, almost one-third of adults still do not walk for at least 10 minutes at a time per week. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Further research could be conducted to examine individual, social, and environmental factors contributing to the observed trends and demographic differences in walking prevalence. Communities and streets can be designed to make walking safe and easy for all, and walking programs that are tailored to participants’ interests and abilities can be implemented in community settings. Evaluation of these efforts can help identify successful strategies for promoting walking in different settings and among various populations. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Ussery EN, Carlson SA, Whitfield GP, Watson KB, Berrigan D, Fulton JE. Walking for Transportation or Leisure Among U.S. Women and Men — National Health Interview Survey, 2005–2015. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2017;66:657–662. DOI:

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Last Updated on July 4, 2017 by Marie Benz MD FAAD