Report: Only 1 in 5 Adults Get Recommended Amount of Exercise

Dorian Martin Health Guide
  • So do you get enough exercise? What about your neighbors? And your community? The results are in and it turns out that many people are not getting enough aerobic exercise weekly. Furthermore, even fewer are doing the recommended amount of strengthening exercises weekly.

    A new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that only one in five U.S. adults is succeeding in meeting both the aerobic and strength aspects of the recommendations for physical activity. At 23.4 percent, men were more likely to complete the recommendations than women (17.9 percent). The report used data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, which is an annual phone survey conducted by state health departments that queries adults 18 years of age and above.

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    The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans calls for adults to take part of at least 2-1/2 hours a week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise (like walking) or 1-1/4 hours of weekly aerobic activity that is vigorous in intensity (such as jogging) or a combination of both of these levels of exercise. In addition, the guidelines encourage adults to perform activities to strength muscles at least two days a week. These activities, which should focus on all the major muscle groups, should include exercises such as pushups, sit-ups or exercises that use resistance bands or weights.

    The report also noted that 51.6 percent of adults get the recommended mount of aerobic exercise. A larger percentage of men (53.1 percent) said they completed the recommended aerobic exercise than women (50.2 percent).  In addition, 29.3 percent are doing the recommended amount of muscle-strengthening activity. Again, men (34.4 percent) were more active in this area than women (24.5 percent).

    Age also seems to be a factor. Adults who were between 18-24 were the most likely (at 30.7 percent) to do aerobic and strengthening exercises. The percentage falls steadily among age groups; the group with the lowest percentage (15.9 percent) of members doing aerobic and strength exercises was the group that was 65 years and above. The same sort of trend was seen in relation to strengthening exercise with the 18-24 year-old group leading the pack (with 44 percent) and the 65-and-over group bringing up the rear (21.7 percent). Interestingly, the steady decline by age changes in relation to aerobic exercise, with the 18-24 year old group leading the pack (56.8 percent), followed by the 65-and-olver group (52.7 percent), the 55-64 year-old group (50.9 percent) and the 45-54 year- old group (51.1 percent). The two groups that have the least amount of aerobic exercise are the group with 25-34 year-old adults (49.8 percent) and the group that had 35-44 year-old adults (49.8 percent).

    The report also broke down activity based on the region of the United States. People who lived in the West were more likely to reach the recommended amount of both types of exercises (23.5 percent) as well as aerobic exercise (57.2 percent) and strength exercise (32.0 percent). The Northeast had the second highest levels for both aerobic and strength exercises (21.3 percent), aerobic exercise (52.2 percent) and strength exercises (30.0 percent). The South had the lowest totals – 18.7 percent completing the recommended amount of aerobic and strength exercises weekly; 48 percent completing the recommended aerobic exercise; and 27.7 percent completing the recommended strength exercise.

  • The 10 individual states (including the District of Columbia) with the highest levels of their adult population reaching the recommended targets for weekly aerobic and strength exercises were:  Colorado (27.3 percent); the District of Columbia (26.3 percent); Alaska (25.0 percent); Arizona (24.2 percent); California (23.7 percent); Hawaii (23.7 percent); Oregon (23.4 percent); Massachusetts (23.3 percent); Virginia (22.7 percent); and Utah (22.5 percent).

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    The 10 states with the lowest levels of adult population reaching these targets were: Tennessee (12.7 percent); West Virginia (12.7 percent); Mississippi (14.2 percent); Alabama (15.0 percent); Louisiana (15.5 percent); South Dakota (16.0 percent); Oklahoma (16.2 percent); Arkansas (16.7 percent); Iowa (17.2 percent); Missouri (17.3 percent); Kentucky (17.3 percent); and Indiana (17.3 percent).

    Researchers hope this study will provide the necessary fodder for individuals to become more active and for communities to find ways to encourage these healthy behaviors. "Although only 20 percent of adults are meeting the overall physical activity recommendations, it is encouraging that half the adults in the United States are meeting the aerobic guidelines and a third are meeting the muscle-strengthening recommendations," said Carmen D. Harris, an epidemiologist in CDC's physical activity and health branch in the CDC’s press release.  "This is a great foundation to build upon, but there is still much work to do. Improving access to safe and convenient places where people can be physically active can help make the active choice the easy choice."

    Primary Sources for This Sharepost:

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013). Adult participation in aerobic and muscle-strengthening physical activities – United States, 2011. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013). One in five adults meet overall physical activity guidelines.

Published On: May 06, 2013