May 9, 2012
Study Finds Americans Not Getting Enough Exercise
Researchers from a pair of prominent US universities have discovered that American adults aren't getting enough exercise, spending less than half as much time participating in sports or fitness activities as experts recommend each week.
As part of their study, members of Penn State University and the University of Maryland analyzed data collected by the government through the Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) American Time Use Study (ATUS), the State College, Pennsylvania-based college announced in a press release Tuesday.They found that on average, US residents only spend two hours per week participating in these types of physical activities. That statistic falls well short of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations that adults between the ages of 18 and 64 get nearly four hours of exercise each week -- 2.5 hours of moderate work, and an additional 1.25 hours of strenuous activity, including running or muscle-building exercise.
Geoffrey Godbey, professor emeritus of recreation, park and tourism management at Penn State, said, "The amount of exercise Americans get has become a major concern," adding that there were several reasons as to why people in the US aren't exercising as much as they should, including the fact that four out of every five miles Americans spend moving are in a vehicle, and because the society as a whole is aging.
Of course, part of the reason for the lack of activity is that Americans are simply choosing to spend their free time in different ways. In a June 2011 press release discussing the ATUS results, the BLS noted that subjects over the age of 15 watched an average of 2.7 hours of television per day. Fifteen to nineteen year olds spend more than an hour per weekend day playing computer games, while individuals over the age of 75 spent roughly the same amount of time reading on Saturdays and Sundays.
"We are almost addicted to television and computers," Godbey said, adding that additional possible causes for the study results include the fact that "a lot of physical activities, such as hockey and tennis, can be expensive to participate in because of the gear and memberships they require," and that "because of crime, some people are afraid to leave their homes to go out for a walk or a run."
Walking was found to be the most prevalent physical activity, with 5% of Americans walking for an average of 53 minutes daily. Basketball was the most popular team sport, especially among teenagers, while football was second, soccer was third, then baseball, volleyball, and hockey, in order. The researchers also discovered that teenagers spend the most time exercising (41 minutes per day), followed by 18 to 64 year olds (17 minutes) and then seniors over the age of 65 (13 minutes).