Only 23 percent of Americans from age 18 to 64 exercise on a regular basis and meet federal guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities. Regular participation in physical activity goes a long way to lowering your risk of many chronic conditions, disability and mortality.

Federal guidelines recommend that leisure time exercise occur at least twice a week and include a “moderate-intensity-aerobic physical activity for at least 150 minutes per week” or “vigorous intensity physical activity for at least 75 minutes per week,” in addition to muscle-strengthening activities two or more times a week.  According to the new National Center for  Health Statistics report which evaluated five years of data from the National Health Survey, only 23 percent of adults hit both these benchmarks, while another 32 percent met one but not both. Close to 45 percent of adults between the ages of 18-64 did not hit either benchmark.

The study analyzed data by gender and state and found a wide variation across the country. Fourteen states and the District of Columbia had significantly higher percentages of adults meeting the federal guidelines for exercise, while 13 states were significantly lower than the national average. The highest percentage of men meeting the federal guidelines for exercise were those living in Washington D.C. with a 40.3 percent participation rate.   Men living in South Dakota had the lowest rate for exercise of 17.7 percent. The national average for men is 27.2 percent.

The highest percentage of women meeting the federal guidelines for exercise lived in Colorado with a 31.5 percent.  Women residing in Mississippi were at the lowest participation rate of 9.7 percent.  The national average for women who exercise is 18.7 percent.

The study noted that people who are in managerial or professional positions were more likely to engage in leisure exercise activity and meet the standards than those individuals in production roles, such as assembly or manufacturing. The report only measured leisure time exercise, and did not report on individuals who were surveyed that incorporated exercise as part of their occupation. The study acknowledged that those adults working in physically demanding jobs or engaging in exercise as they commute to and from work, may log in a lower amount of leisure time exercise as part of the survey.  The survey did not capture non-leisure time exercise as part of its data analysis.

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