Only about a quarter of US adults get enough exercise

According to a new report from the Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics, only around 23 percent of the American adults meet the recommendations for aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercises.

The recommendations from the US Department of Health and Human Services state that people between ages 18 and 64 should get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week. In addition they should get muscle-strengthening activities at least twice a week.

Figure 1. Age-adjusted percentages of adults aged 18–64 who met both aerobic and muscle-strengthening federal guidelines through leisure-time physical activity, by state: United States, 2010–2015

The department launched its Healthy People 2020 initiative in 2010 and targeted that at least 20.1 percent people should meet this recommendation by 2020. According to the latest report from the CDC published yesterday, this goal has been surpassed with 22.9 percent meeting the target recommendations. Tainya Clarke, a health statistician and epidemiologist with the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics and one of the authors of the report, said that despite the overall numbers, there is a wide variation in numbers between states. Clarke explained that sociodemographic factors played a role in people’s adherence to the exercise recommendations.

Figure 2. Age-adjusted percentages of men aged 18–64 who met both aerobic and muscle-strengthening federal guidelines through leisuretime physical activity, by state: United States, 2010–2015
Figure 2. Age-adjusted percentages of men aged 18–64 who met both aerobic and muscle-strengthening federal guidelines through leisuretime physical activity, by state: United States, 2010–2015

People in Colorado for example were better than others at exercising regularly finds the report. The report notes that 32.5 percent adults in Colorado are meeting the guidelines. The District of Columbia as well as 13 other states too were performing better finds the report. Thirteen other states were lower than the national average with Mississippi at only 13.5 percent active adults.

Results showed that on an average 28.8 percent of men and 20.9 percent of women met the guidelines for exercise. In the District of Columbia 40.5 percent men were working out regularly while in South Dakota only 17.5 percent men were active. Among women the least active numbers were from Mississippi at 10.5 percent and most active women were from Colorado at 33.6 percent. Professional and managerial occupations seemed to be more active than others. Working men and women were more likely to get regular exercise compared to non-working men and women found the report.

According to Clarke it was expected that warm weather states would have more active adults than cold weather states like Colorado, New Hampshire, Massachusetts. But the results were different. Those that fared badly were states in the Southeast such as Florida, Georgia and Alabama, Clarke said. She said that although the target goals are met, this should inspire us to more forward and improve on them.

This report measures physical activity during leisure time and does not measure other activities such as those who walk or cycle to work or take the stairs etc. say experts. According to experts 30 minutes a day of aerobic exercise or biking for five days and two days of resistance training using weights (running or swimming) could be adequate to meet the recommendations. This can keep up both physical as well as mental health and well being, experts recommend.

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Most US adults do not engage in muscle-strengthening exercise, study shows