Only 23 percent of U.S. adults meet exercise recommendations, CDC report finds

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The outcome exceeds the agency’s previous goal, but more needs to be done

new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that just under a quarter of U.S. adults (23 percent) are meeting the agency’s recommendations when it comes to exercise.

While that number exceeds the goal set by CDC’s Healthy People 2020 initiative started in 2010, it shows that Americans have a long way to go when it comes to getting enough aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercise. The report authors point out that results varied widely by region, with many states failing to meet the objective.

“The extent to which adults met these guidelines varied by state, sex, and current work status. Fourteen states and the District of Columbia had significantly higher percentages of adults meeting the guidelines through LTPA (leisure-time physical activity) than the national average, while 13 states had percentages that were significantly below the national average,” they said.

Results by state and gender

States in which residents significantly exceeded the CDC’s fitness guidelines included Washington, California, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Wyoming, Colorado, Minnesota, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and the District of Columbia.

Colorado led the way when it came to fit individuals, with 32.5 percent of state residents exceeding the national average. It was followed by Idaho (31.4 percent), New Hampshire (30.7 percent), and the District of Columbia (30.7 percent).

States with residents falling significantly below national averages were located primarily in the South; the full list includes Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Indiana, South Dakota, and New York. The worst performing state when it came to fitness was Mississippi, with only 13.5 percent of residents meeting federal aerobic and muscle-strengthening guidelines.

When divided by gender, the researchers found that 28.8 percent of men met the exercise guidelines at the national level. By comparison, only 20.9 percent of women were able to meet the guidelines.

Exercise guidelines

The CDC currently recommends that all adults avoid physical inactivity to prevent a range of health issues. To obtain substantial health benefits, the agency recommends that adults:

  • Engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week; and

  • Engage in muscle-strengthening activities that are moderate- or high-intensity and involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days per week.

For children and adolescents, regulators recommend 60 minutes of daily physical activity. In addition to participating in aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities, the agency says that young people should also include exercises that help increase bone strength.

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