Three quarters of Americans do not exercise enough, new study finds

“Regular physical activity is one of the most important things people can do to improve their health,” said the secretary of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC.

The organisation published a report on Tuesday, and found that only “a low proportion of U.S. adults met leisure-time aerobic, muscle-strengthening, and combined physical activity guidelines,” about 28%.

The Physical Activity Guidelines recommends that adults engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, or a combination of both, per week. Additionally, adults should also include muscle-strengthening activities at least two days per week, while children and adolescents should do at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per day.

The study analysed data from 2020 and showed that the prevalence of meeting aerobic, muscle-strengthening, and combined physical activity guidelines in leisure time, varied based on geographic location, with only 16% of adults living in the most rural counties meeting the guidelines. Also, prevalence rates are 20.3%-29.5% higher in the West than in the South. “However, across all geographic and rural-urban categories, adherence to guidelines was low, with no more than 52% of adults meeting aerobic guidelines, 35% meeting muscle strengthening, and 28% meeting combined guidelines,” concludes the report.

Meanwhile, in the US, about $117 billion in annual health care costs and about 10% of premature mortality are associated with inadequate physical activity (not meeting the aerobic key guidelines), according to the HHS. Not meeting the recommended levels of physical activity can have negative consequences on one’s health and well-being, including an increased risk of chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.