Just 1 in 4 americans gets enough exercise

June 28, 2018 by Alan Mozes, Healthday Reporter

(HealthDay)—Three-quarters of Americans are falling far short when it comes to exercise, and the South and Midwest bear the dubious distinction of having the most couch potatoes, a new government report shows.

Only about one in four adults (23 percent) meets minimum federal guidelines for , according to researchers from the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics.

Dr. William Roberts, past president of the American College of Sports Medicine, said the only surprise is that the percentage of Americans meeting the target "is as high as it is."

But he suggested that it's never too late for those who aren't active.

"Regular exercise reduces the prevalence of heart disease, [], diabetes, obesity, depression and many other medical conditions," he said. "It is dose-dependent, and basically free."

In the study, investigators Debra Blackwell and Tainya Clarke surveyed exercise habits among more than 155,000 American men and women, aged 18 to 64, between 2010 and 2015.

The goal was to see whether Americans were meeting the most recent recommendations issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) back in 2008. Activities performed during work or while commuting were not included.

The 2008 guidelines advocate muscle training at least twice weekly, alongside either 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of high-intensity aerobics (or a mix of both).

The 23 percent figure shifted little throughout the five-year study, the investigators found. And the good news is that while three-quarters of Americans didn't meet the thresholds, the 23 percent who did exceeded the federal goal of getting 20 percent adherence by 2020.

The bad news, however, is that the report also found huge geographical disparities, with activity levels in some states dipping far below or far above the national average.

"Fourteen states and the District of Columbia had significantly higher percentages of adults meeting the guidelines than the national average, while 13 states had percentages that were significantly below the national average," Blackwell said.

Among men, Washington, D.C., topped the rankings, with just over 40 percent of residents meeting the guidelines. But in South Dakota, less than 18 percent of male residents made the exercise grade.

Colorado came out on top among women, said Blackwell, with nearly one-third meeting the guidelines. By contrast, Mississippi came in dead last, with only about one in 10 women achieving minimum standards.

As to what might explain regional differences, Blackwell said "there are likely many factors that play a role," including social and cultural backgrounds, economic status and job status.

Blackwell and Clarke found that states that were home to more professional or managerial workers met higher exercise thresholds. Similarly, states that had fewer unemployed adults encumbered by fair-to-poor health or disabilities also registered higher exercise rates.

Gender also mattered, as less than 19 percent of all women met HHS exercise goals.

But sedentary people who get off the couch and start moving actually have "the most gain in health benefit for any group of people," noted Roberts, a professor in the department of family medicine and community health at the University of Minnesota.

"Or put another way," he said, "the same increase in activity benefits a sedentary person by a far greater amount than a similar increase in an already moderately active person, and even more so than a vigorously active person."

So what's an aspiring exerciser to do?

"'Well' people can start with a five-minute walk, and add a minute a day—more or less—to gradually increase activity over a period of weeks to months," Roberts said. "Once at 30 to 60 minutes nearly every day of the week, picking up the pace is OK. Any physical activity from walking to running to dancing to biking is OK. The goal is to move."

The findings were reported in the June 28 issue of the National Health Statistics Reports.

Explore further: Survey: Exercise and obesity are both rising in US

More information: Debra Blackwell, Ph.D., statistician/demographer, U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, Hyattsville, Md.; William Roberts, M.D., professor, department of family medicine and community health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, and past president, American College of Sports Medicine; June 28, 2018, National Health Statistics Reports

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has more about the exercise guidelines.

Related Stories

Survey: Exercise and obesity are both rising in US

June 28, 2018
It may seem like a contradiction, but more adults in the U.S. say they are exercising at the same time more of them are becoming obese.

Girls, young women fall short on exercise: study

June 11, 2018
(HealthDay)—Many teens and young adults in the United States—particularly women and girls—are physically inactive, a new study reveals.

How exercise helps your heart

May 22, 2018
(HealthDay)—You already know that exercise is good for your health and your heart, both to prevent heart disease and, for those who already have a heart-related condition, to make managing it easier.

Whether sustained or sporadic, exercise offers same reductions in death risk

March 22, 2018
For decades, Americans have been inundated with a confusing barrage of messages about how best to counteract the health risks of sedentary lifestyles: walk 10,000 steps a day; do a seven-minute workout from a phone app; flip ...

America's fittest city: Arlington, Va.

May 15, 2018
(HealthDay)—Arlington, Va. is the "most fit city in America."

Only one in five Americans gets enough exercise, CDC report says

May 2, 2013
(HealthDay)—Most Americans are falling short when it comes to exercise, a new government report shows.

Recommended for you

Eating iron-fortified grain improves students' attention, memory

July 18, 2018
Adolescent students in a rural school in India who consumed an iron-biofortified version of the grain pearl millet exhibited improved attention and memory compared to those who consumed conventional pearl millet, according ...

Lowering hospitals' Medicare costs proves difficult

July 18, 2018
A payment system that provides financial incentives for hospitals that reduce health-care costs for Medicare patients did not lower costs as intended, according to a new study led by Washington University School of Medicine ...

Vaping tied to blood clots—in mice

July 18, 2018
A new study involving mice raises another concern about the danger of e-cigarettes in humans after experiments showed that short-term exposure to the device's vapors appeared to increase the risk of clot formation.

People who tan in gyms tan more often, and more addictively, than others, new research shows

July 18, 2018
Gyms are places people go to get healthier. But nearly half the gyms in the U.S. contain a potentially addictive carcinogen—tanning beds, report UConn researchers in the July 18 issue of JAMA Dermatology.

Omega 3 supplements have little or no heart or vascular health benefit: review

July 17, 2018
New evidence published today shows there is little or no effect of omega 3 supplements on our risk of experiencing heart disease, stroke or death.

Study shows that people most affected by alcohol also most impacted by sleep deprivation

July 17, 2018
A team of researchers from the German Aerospace Center and Forschungszentrum Jülich has found that people who are most susceptible to alcohol intoxication are also most susceptible to cognitive problems due to sleep deprivation. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.