Background: Few Americans accumulate enough physical activity (PA) to realize its benefits. Understanding how and why individuals use their discretionary time for different forms of PA could help identify and rectify issues that drive individuals away from certain physical activities, and leverage successful strategies to increase participation in others. Methods: The authors analyzed approximately 30 years of changes in PA behavior by intensity, type, and mode, using data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Results: Since 1988, the proportions of adults most frequently engaging in exercise, sport, or lifestyle physical activity have changed noticeably. The most apparent changes from 1988 to 2017 were the proportions most frequently engaging in Exercise and Sport. In addition, the proportion of time reportedly spent in vigorous-intensity PA decreased over time, particularly among male respondents. Moreover, the proportion of Americans reporting an “Other” PA mode increased substantially, suggesting a growing need for a greater variety of easily accessible options for adult PA. Conclusions: Over time, a smaller proportion of American adults reported participating in sport and exercise modalities and reported engaging more frequently in low-intensity physical activities.
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