The latest CDC report reveals that more Americans are getting active—but it's still too little of the population.
Photo: Jacob Lund/Shutterstock
Only about one in four U.S. adults (23 percent) meet the nation's minimum physical activity guidelines, according to the latest National Health Statistics Reports by the CDC. The good news: That number has increased from 20.6 percent, according to a 2014 CDC report on nationwide physical activity levels.
ICYDK, official guidelines recommend that adults get a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate activity (or 75 minutes of vigorous activity) a week, but advise 300 minutes of moderate activity (or 150 minutes of vigorous activity) weekly for optimal health. In addition, the CDC says adults should be doing some type of strength training at least two days a week. (Need help hitting that goal? Try following this routine for a perfectly balanced week of workouts.)
If you're thinking: "I don't know anyone who works out that much," it might be because of where you live. The percentage of people meeting activity guidelines really varies for each state: Colorado was the most active state with 32.5 percent of adults meeting the minimum standard for both aerobic and strength exercise. The other active states rounding out the top five include Idaho, New Hampshire, Washington D.C., and Vermont. Meanwhile, Mississippians were the least active, with just 13.5 percent of adults meeting the minimum exercise requirements. Kentucky, Indiana, South Carolina, and Arkansas finish off the top five least active states.
The fact that the overall nationwide rate surpassed the government's Healthy People 2020 goal—to have 20.1 percent of adults meeting exercise guidelines by 2020—is great news. However, the fact that less than a quarter of Americans are staying physically active enough to maintain good health is not so great.
Obesity rates have been steadily rising since 1990, with the national rate clocking in at about 37.7 percent, according to the CDC's latest obesity stats, and that may be one reason the U.S. life expectancy actually declined for the first time since 1993. (FYI, the U.S. obesity crisis is affecting your pets too.) And while a poor diet is the number one risk to your health, it's no coincidence that Colorado—the most active state—also has the lowest rate of obesity and that Mississippi—the least active state—ranks number two for the highest obesity rate.
The most common barriers to exercise, according to the CDC: time and safety. Beyond that, there's the inconvenience factor, a lack of motivation, lack of confidence, or the feeling that exercise is boring. If you're not as active as you'd like to be and are hearing yourself think, "yes, yes, yes" to each of these excuses, don't lose hope:
- Tap into a group of friends or our Goal Crushers Facebook Group to surround yourself with people who have the same goal—feel great, be happy, get healthier.
- Try a transformation challenge, like our 40-Day Crush-Your-Goals Challenge with Jen Widerstrom to stay accountable and get guidance along the way.
- Read up on all the other benefits of exercise besides weight loss or aesthetic goals. Once you find an active activity you actually enjoy, you'll be hooked.