The Grapevine

Only Quarter Of American Adults Get Enough Exercise, Report Finds

Have you been out for a walk today? Only around a quarter of Americans are getting enough exercise according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The new report from the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) was published online on June 28.

"We have to pause and ask ourselves, are we doing great as a nation?" said co-author Tainya Clarke, a health statistician and epidemiologist at the NCHS. "Is it really good that only 23 percent of our population is engaged in enough aerobic activity and muscle strength training, or do we need to do better?"

Federal guidelines recommend that adults (in the 18 to 64 age bracket) perform at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity every week. Muscle-strengthening activities are also recommended at least twice a week.

Regular physical activity combined with a healthy diet can have notable benefits such as lower risk of heart disease and stroke, an ideal body weight, better mental health, etc.

The target set in 2008 (by the Department of Health and Human Services) aimed to have at least 20.1 percent of adults actively following the guidelines by 2020. The new findings revealed that 22.9 percent of Americans have been successful in doing so.

"That being said, we found that even though the average has met and exceeded the objective or the goal, there are differences," Clarke said. "There are differences at the state level, and there are differences by some sociodemographic factors."

Gender differences, for one, were highlighted as the exercise target was hit by 27.2 percent of men but only 18.7 percent of women. Colorado was the healthiest state with 32.5 percent of residents meeting the target while Mississippi saw the lowest rate with only 13.5 percent meeting the target.

Looking at differences by state was important, the authors wrote, as states have the power to provide resources and raise awareness related to physical activity goals.

The nature of work one performed seemed to make a difference as well. People who worked in "professional and managerial occupations" were most likely to follow the guidelines during leisure time while people who worked in "production and related occupations" were the least likely to meet the guidelines during leisure time.

This may come as a surprise since office workers are at high risk since their job involves sitting down for long durations and being exposed to unhealthy food options. However, "leisure" is the key word here as it only reported on exercise performed outside of work-related physical activity. 

"If you are engaged in a physically demanding job for eight to 12 hours a day, the last thing you want to do at the end of your workday is go to the gym to work out," Clarke stated.