I am the 79%.
That is, 79% of American adults that are not meeting the minimum federal physical activity guidelines for aerobic exercises and muscle-strengthening activities. Women, Hispanics, older adults, and obese adults are even less likely to meet those minimums according to the statistics published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a horrifyingly-titled journal by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The new research is collected from self-reported data from 450,000 respondents who participated in the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, which surveys adults over the age of 18.
This means that the numbers are actually even worse than reported, as people tend to exaggerate their activities to poll-takers. The National Cancer Institute has conducted its own research using actual motion sensors and has found that fewer than 5% of adults get at least 30 minutes in bouts of at least ten minutes.
Researchers studied activity levels in school girls and women over the age of 70 and found that female physical activity is lower than male because of differences in social dynamics. Girls and women spend more time engaging with others verbally as a social activity, while boys and men engage in more competitively active social activities at both ends of the age spectrum.
These behaviors get codified at an early age and, as the study suggests, influence male and female activity levels throughout the lifetime of the individuals.
On the other hand Hispanics are less likely to be active because of issues surrounding immigration, namely poverty and the safety of their neighborhoods. If immigrants live in less safe neighborhoods, they are less likely to to exercise or engage in sports outside the home, and are also less likely to have access to community centers or fields that are well-maintained.
Older adults tend to be less active because of health risks involved in vigorous exercise. Kaiser Permanente recently launched a major advertising campaign describing how older adults can prevent the risks of falling or weaknesses, and have been promoting ways for older adults to keep their physical activity levels up.
More than one-third of Americans adults, or 35.7%, are obese and despite the variations in socioeconomic and education factors, most people are victims of sedentary lifestyles. Living in an industrialized society like the U.S. allows for the prevalence of a high-fat diet and access to conveniences that don't promote an active lifestyles.
An example of this are the results from studies conducted comparing city vs. country residents' health issues. City residents walk more and live longer lives than country folks.
Regardless of which category you fall into, the bottom line is we all need to be getting up and moving around a lot more than we do. Excuse me while I try and do some jumping jacks in my pajamas.