Only about one in five 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 May 3 in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a journal of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The data are based on self-reported information from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, an annual phone survey of adults aged 18 and over conducted by state health departments.
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.
On a positive note, the CDC 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.
"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, MPH, epidemiologist in CDC's physical activity and health branch, in a prepared statement. "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."
The report also found state-by-state and regional differences. 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, according to the report.
For more information, click here to access CDC's online Physical Activity resources.