Only 20% of adults in the U.S. are getting the recommended amount of exercise, according to a new report by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

The research showed that one in five American adults is meeting both the aerobic and muscle-strengthening components of the physical activity guidelines issued by the federal government.

Data were gathered and analyzed from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System – an annual phone survey of adults aged 18 and older conducted by state health departments.

According to The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults should be getting at least two and a half hours each week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity – like walking – or one hour and 15 minutes each week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity – like jogging – or a mixture of both.

The recommendations also say that adults should engage in muscle-strengthening activities, including sit-ups, push-ups, or exercise using resistance bands or weights.

All major muscle groups should be involved in these activities, which should be done at least two days every week.

Almost half of American adults are meeting the recommendations for aerobic activity and approximately 30% are getting the recommended amount of muscle-strengthening activity.

Carmen D. Harris, M.P.H, epidemiologist in CDC’s physical activity and health branch, said:

“Although only 20 percent of adults are meeting the overall physical activity recommendations, it is encouraging that half the adults in the United States are meeting the aerobic guidelines and a third are meeting the muscle-strengthening recommendations.”

Harris added:

“This is a great foundation to build upon, but there is still much work to do. Improving access to safe and convenient places where people can be physically active can help make the active choice the easy choice.”

Differences among states and the District of Columbia were also found. According to the results, the rates of adults getting the recommended amount of exercise ranged from 27% in Colorado to 13% in Tennessee and West Virginia.

The highest proportion of people who met the guidelines lived in the West (24%) and the Northeast (21%).

Individuals who were least likely to get the recommended amount of exercise included:

  • Hispanics
  • women
  • older adults
  • obese adults

A previous report revealed the guidelines stress that exercise benefits everyone regardless of age or ethnic group and are formulated so that people can easily include physical activities that they enjoy into their daily lives.

Some of the benefits of exercising regularly that are listed in the guidelines include a lower risk of:

A previous study indicated that nearly two thirds of adults in the UK are not getting enough exercise, putting themselves at greater risk for potentially fatal illnesses.

A report from Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, published in August 2013, showed that obesity rates in America have stopped rising for the first time in over thirty years.

Written by Sarah Glynn