Pop Quiz: How Many Americans Get Enough Exercise?

Report suggests the vast majority fall short of the minimum recommendation

Just 20 percent of Americans get the recommended amounts of both aerobic and strength-building exercise, according to a new report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The findings were published in the May 3 issue of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

When strength training and aerobic exercise were considered separately, the results were better.   Almost 52 percent of adults completed the recommended amount of cardio, and 29.3 percent did adequate strength training. This indicates that many individuals do one kind or the other, when in fact they should do both. 

Rates of exercise varied by state, region and other demographics. Tennessee and West Virginia fared the worst at 13 percent, while Colorado performed best at 27 percent. In the West, 24 percent of adults received adequate overall exercise followed by people in the Northeast at 21 percent. Those least likely to meet the guidelines were women, Hispanics and older and obese adults.

Although these results seem discouraging, the researchers highlighted the positive aspects of their findings.

“While only about 30 percent of adults meet the muscle-strengthening guidelines, we find it very encouraging that half of U.S. adults are meeting the aerobic guidelines,” report author Carmen Harris, a CDC epidemiologist, told Health.

Each week, adults should do at least two and a half hours of moderate intensity aerobic activity, such as walking, or an hour and 15 minutes of vigorous intensity activity, such as a jogging, according to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Adults should also do muscle-strengthening exercises, such as pushups and squats, two or more days a week with the goal to work all major muscle groups.

Exercise is critical to weight management, reducing anxiety and depression, lowering the risk for chronic diseases such as cancer, and boosting energy, immunity and brain power, exercise physiologist Samantha Heller told Health.

Data for the report was taken from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System—a yearly phone survey of adults aged 18 and over.

Via Health.