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Report Finds Americans Need More Exercise

December 5, 2008

Researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported Thursday that many Americans are failing to meet the minimum guidelines for daily exercise.

Depending on the recommendation used, either about half or about two-thirds of Americans meet the minimum goals, the team said.
The study was based on a telephone survey of 399,000 U.S. adults.

“Additional efforts are needed to further increase physical activity,” the researchers wrote in the agency’s weekly report on death and disease.

“Approximately one third of U.S. adults did not report meeting minimum levels of aerobic physical activity as defined by the 2008 Guidelines.”

Guidelines released last October by the U.S. Health and Human Services Department recommend a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise each week, such as brisk walking, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity such as running.

Nearly 65 percent of adults reached that goal, the CDC said.

However, when using guidelines established by the government’s Healthy People 2010 initiative, only 49 percent of those surveyed achieved the recommended amount of exercise. That objective sets a goal of at least 30 minutes of moderate activity five days a week, or 20 minutes of vigorous activity three days each week.

“Existing scientific evidence cannot determine whether the health benefits of 30 minutes of activity, 5 days per week, are any different from the benefits of 50 minutes, 3 days per week,” the CDC researchers wrote.

The agency said it is easier for people to meet or exceed exercise goals in terms of minutes of exercise per week.  However, they add it may be less confusing to simply advise people to exercise whenever they can.

The Institute of Medicine established stronger guidelines in a 2002 report that recommended people exercise at least an hour a day to maintain health and weight.  

About a third of Americans are obese and another one-third are overweight, putting them at higher risk of conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer, the CDC said.

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