Only 20% of Americans Meet Cardio & Strength Guidelines

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One-fifth of the nation is doing enough aerobic activity and strength training to meet exercise guidelines, according to a new report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In an analysis of a 2011 survey of nearly half a million Americans, 20% were getting at least 150 minutes of moderate, or at least 75 minutes of vigorous, aerobic activity a week, as well as doing muscle-strengthening exercises at least twice a week. Those cardio-plus-strength guidelines were set by the CDC in 2008.

If the news sounds somewhat familiar, it’s because the CDC report follows on the heels of another activity study released last week. That study found that one-third of Americans regularly participate in a high-calorie-burning activity like running, cycling or hitting the gym.

In the CDC report, 50% met aerobic exercise guidelines, while 29% did the recommended amount of strength work.

Of the 20% of respondents who met both guidelines, men and young adults were more likely than women and older adults to combine aerobic exercise and strength training in their week.

Normal-weight people were also more likely to meet both guidelines than overweight or obese individuals.

Among the states, West Virginia and Tennessee had the lowest percentages of people who met the exercise recommendations (12.7%), while Colorado had the highest percentage (26.3%).

The CDC study, known as the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey, was first conducted in 1984 and is considered the largest telephone survey in the world. Though its data reach back nearly three decades, 2011 was the first year questions to track both aerobic and strength activities were added, so there are no previous numbers to compare current data to. However, the CDC report notes that a 2011 National Health Interview Survey also found that 20 percent of respondents met standards set for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercises.

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