Ample Exercise And Physical Activity Not On Most Americans' Agendas
May 3, 2013

Ample Exercise And Physical Activity Not On Most Americans’ Agendas

April Flowers for - Your Universe Online

For the most part, American adults are not meeting the federal physical activity recommendations for both aerobic exercise and muscle-strengthening activity. This not very surprising conclusion comes from a new government statistics report released this week.

According to a USA Today report, the new study finds that 79 percent of adults are not meeting the recommended guidelines for either moderate-intensity (e.g. brisk walking) or vigorous-intensity (e.g. jogging) aerobic activity. The guidelines, from the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (PAG), recommend that the average adult should get 2.5 hours of moderate level or 1.25 hours of vigorous level aerobic activity a week to maintain good health.

Additionally, the guidelines recommend that adults incorporate muscle-strengthening activities, such as push-ups, sit-ups or exercise using resistance bands or weights. Such exercise should be done two or more days a week, and hit all major muscle groups to be effective.

The benefits of such exercise are almost immeasurable, with regular physical activity having been shown to lower the risk of early death and help control weight gain. It also lowers the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression and some types of cancer and a host of other conditions, such as cognitive decline and hip fractures.

There is some disagreement among researchers about the percentages, though, with other studies showing an even lower number of adults reaching the recommended activity levels. A research group with the National Cancer Institute (NCI) used actual motion detectors, finding that fewer than five percent of US adults get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity in bouts of at least 10 minutes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published the latest findings in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The statistics were based on self-reported data from 450,000 respondents, age 18 and older, who participated in the annual Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System phone survey.

According to the report, 21 percent of adults report that they met both the aerobic and muscle-strengthening guidelines. Separately, approximately 52 percent report meeting the aerobic guidelines and 29 percent say they meet the muscle-strengthening recommendations.

The report broke the responses down by state as well, with 27 percent of those in Colorado claiming to meet them compared with 13 percent in Tennessee and West Virginia. The researchers found that women, Hispanics, older adults and obese adults are all less likely to meet the guidelines.

"This is a great start, and we can use this information to encourage other adults to increase their aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity," says Carmen Harris, an epidemiologist in the CDC's physical activity and health branch. "Improving access to safe and convenient places, such as parks, walking trails and sidewalks, can increase opportunities for physical activity in communities."

"It amazes me that given all the well-known benefits of physical activity that so few Americans choose to be regularly active. The most powerful thing you can do for your health is become active,” commented Tim Church, director of preventive medicine research at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center (PBRC) in Baton Rouge.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans gives many suggestions for meeting the requirements. For example, walking briskly for 30 minutes a day on five days each week for moderate intensity aerobics coupled with resistance band training two days for muscle-strengthening.