From: David A Gabel, ENN
Published May 9, 2012 09:44 AM

Federal Exercise Recommendations Prove too Rigorous for the Average American

The United States government has issued recommendations on the proper amount of exercise required for adults to stay healthy. The recommendations were created by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP). They say that adults between ages 18 and 64 should get about four hours of physical activity each week. Of this, one hour and fifteen minutes should consist of vigorous activity such as running or muscle strengthening. The other 2.5 hours could be moderate exercise such as walking. A new study from researchers at Penn State and University of Maryland suggests Americans fall short of these recommendations, spending only about two hours per week on fitness activities.


According to Geoffrey Godbey, professor emeritus at Penn State, "The United States is the fattest country in the world. The amount of exercise Americans get has become a major concern."

Working with Prof. John Robinson of the University of Maryland, the team analyzed data from the US Census Bureau's most recent study of over 100,000 respondents. They found that the most popular exercise is walking, engaged in by about five percent of Americans for an average 53 minutes per walker. Of the more physically active sports, the most popular is basketball, followed by football, soccer, baseball, volleyball, and hockey.

"Baseball may be our national pastime and football our main spectator sport, but the daily time spent on basketball is higher than both of them combined," said Robinson. "This is particularly true among teenagers, who spend about seven times more time than older adults playing basketball, as well as other team sports."

Teenagers are much more prone to fitness activites than adults. Teens spend an average 41 minutes per day exercise versus a mere 17 minutes for adults and 13 minutes for seniors.

The researchers try to explain why Americans do not exercise as much as they should. Reasons include:

- The automobile culture. Four out of every five miles Americans spend moving are in an automobile.

- Electronic entertainment. Americans are "addicted" to television and computers. Adults spend half of their free time each week staring at a screen.

- Aging society. 13 percent of Americans are over age 65.

- Costs of exercising. Many activities like hockey and tennis can be expensive to participate in due to the required gear, travel to the courts, and memberships they might require.

- Fear of crime. Many are afraid to leave their homes and walk or run around the neighborhood.

Although two hours per week is not much, the researchers say it is still better than what American adults were getting 50 years ago. The recent survey results were three times higher than a US national survey conducted in 1965.

For more information, this study is to be published in the 2011 edition of Time Use in Australia and United States/Canada Bulletin.

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