Today's News / Health

Only one in five U.S. adults meet physical activity guidelines

-But half of us get enough aerobic exercise

May 6, 2013

treadmillAbout 20 percent of U.S. adults are meeting both the aerobic and muscle strengthening components of the federal government's physical activity recommendations, according to a report published in last week’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a journal of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults 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. 

The report finds that nationwide nearly 50 percent of adults are getting the recommended amounts of aerobic activity and about 30 percent are engaging in the recommended muscle-strengthening activity.

"It is encouraging"

"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, 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."

More Coloradans meet guidelines, few Tennesseans do

The report also found differences among states and the District of Columbia. The rates of adults meeting the overall guidelines ranged from 27 percent in Colorado to 13 percent in Tennessee and West Virginia. The West (24 percent) and the Northeast (21 percent) 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 funds 25 states to address nutrition, physical activity, obesity and other chronic diseases and 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.

For more information about the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, including ways to get and stay active, visit www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity.  Learn more about CDC's efforts to promote walking by visiting www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/walking.

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