PhotoOkay -- you get out and play a little golf or tennis on the weekends or maybe ride your bike for a few miles. But is that really enough exercise?

According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults should get at least 2½ hours a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as walking, or one hour and 15 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, such as jogging, or a combination of both. The guidelines also recommend that adults do muscle-strengthening activities, such as push-ups, sit-ups, or activities using resistance bands or weights. These activities should involve all major muscle groups and be done on two or more days per week.

Missing the mark

But, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), just 20% of U.S. adults are meeting both the aerobic and muscle strengthening components of the federal government's physical activity recommendations. The data are based on self-reported information from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, an annual phone survey of adults aged 18 and over conducted by state health departments.

Overall, nearly 50% of adults nationwide are getting enough aerobic activity and about 30% are engaging in the recommended muscle-strengthening activity.

"Although only 20% 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, M.P.H, epidemiologist in CDC's physical activity and health branch. "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."

State rates

The rates of adults meeting the overall guidelines ranged from 27% in Colorado to 13% in Tennessee and West Virginia. The West (24%) and the Northeast (21%) had the highest proportion of adults who met the guidelines. Women, Hispanics, older adults and obese adults were all less likely to meet the guidelines.

CDC currently provides money to 25 states to address nutrition, physical activity, obesity and other chronic diseases. The agency also works with these states to design and improve communities so people can more easily fit physical activity into their lives. Additionally, CDC's Community Transformation Grants program is working to create places that provide safe, accessible ways to be physically active.


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