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Women's Health USA 2013 An illustrated collection of current and historical data, published annually.

Activity Limitations

Narrative

Activity limitations can be defined by whether a person is able to perform physical tasks (e.g., walking up 10 steps, standing for 2 hours, carrying a ten pound object) or engage in social activities and recreation (e.g., going shopping, visiting friends, sewing, reading) without the assistance of another person or using special equipment.1 In 2009–2011, 34.6 percent of adults reported being limited in their ability to perform one or more of these common activities (data not shown in graph images or in data tables on this site). Women were more likely than men to report being limited in their activities (38.3 versus 30.6 percent, respectively).

The percentage of adults reporting activity limitations increases with age. For example, 19.3 percent of those aged 18–34 years reported activity limitations compared to 28.1 percent of women aged 35–44 years, 47.6 percent of 45- to 64-year-olds, and 70.0 percent of women aged 65 years and older (data not shown in graph images or in data tables on this site).

The prevalence of activity limitations also varied by poverty level and race and ethnicity. Over half (50.5 percent) of women living in households with incomes less than 100 percent of poverty reported activity limitations compared to 30.5 percent of women living in households with incomes of 400 percent or more of poverty (data not shown in graph images or in data tables on this site). With respect to race and ethnicity, activity limitations affected about 40 percent or more of non-Hispanic White (38.9 percent), non-Hispanic Black (41.2 percent), and non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native women (45.3 percent) compared to one-quarter of non-Hispanic Asian women and slightly more than one-third of Hispanic women (36.0 percent).

In 2009–2011, the most commonly reported causes of activity limitations were back or neck problems and arthritis (29.1 and 27.5 percent, respectively), followed by depression, anxiety, or emotional problems (11.0 percent), bone or joint injuries (10.2 percent), and weight problems (7.7 percent). Vision and hearing problems were reported to cause limitations in 2.5 and 1.0 percent of women with activity limitations, respectively.

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention link leaves hrsa.gov site, National Center for Health Statistics. 2009 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) Questionnaire: Adult Health Status and Limitations. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics; 2009.

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Graphs

Data

Adults Aged 18 and Older with Activity Limitations,* by Race/Ethnicity** and Sex, 2009–2011
Race/Ethnicity Percent of Adults, Female Percent of Adults, Male
*Activity limitations are defined as having difficulty performing certain physical, social, or recreational activities without the assistance of another person or using special equipment; all estimates are age-adjusted.
**The sample of Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islanders was too small to produce reliable results. Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Interview Survey, 2009-2011. Analysis conducted by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau.
Non-Hispanic White 38.9 32.0
Non-Hispanic Black 41.2 30.7
Hispanic 36.0 26.8
Non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native 45.3 42.1
Non-Hispanic Asian 25.0 18.7
Non-Hispanic Multiple Race 50.4 42.4
Total 38.3 30.6

Selected Activity Limiting Conditions Among Women Aged 18 and Older with Activity Limitations,* 2009-2011

Percent of Women with Activity Limitations:

  • Back and Neck Problem 29.1
  • Arthritis/Rheumatism 27.5
  • Depression, Anxiety, and Emotional Problems 11.0
  • Bone or Joint Injury 10.2
  • Weight Problem 7.7
  • Lung or Breathing Problem 6.1
  • Hypertension 3.8
  • Diabetes 3.0
  • Vision Problem 2.5
  • Hearing Problem 1.0

*Activity limitations are defined as having difficulty performing certain physical, social, or recreational activities without the assistance of another person or using special equipment; estimates are age-adjusted.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Interview Survey, 2009-2011. Analysis conducted by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau.