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EXERCISE STANDARDS IN THE U.S. & HOW WE ARE DOING

OUR GUIDELINES

The Center for Disease Control gives us helpful guidelines, based on our age and other factors. Of course, some activity is better than none, but let’s have high standards. Here they are:

Pre-school children (3-5 years)

  • Physical activity every day throughout the day
  • Active play through a variety of play activities

Children and adolescents (6-17 years)

  • 60 minutes or more moderate to vigorous physical activity daily
  • A variety of enjoyable physical activities
  • As part of the physical activity – vigorous activity, such as running or soccer, activity that strengthens muscles (such as push ups or climbing) and activity that strengthens bones (such as gymnastics or rope jumping).

Adults (18-64 years)

  • At least 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity activity. such as brisk walking
  • At least 2 days a week of activities that strengthen muscles

Older adults (65 years and older)

  • At least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity, such as brisk walking
  • At least 2 days a week of activities that strengthen muscles
  • Activities that improve balance, such as standing on one foot

Adults with chronic conditions or disabilities

  • At least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity
  • At least 2 days a week of muscle strengthening of all muscle groups

Pregnant and postpartum women

  • At least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity, such as brisk walking – during pregnancy and the postpartum period

OUR FITNESS STATISTICS

Sports Destination Management tells us that nearly 80% of Americans – 6 years of age or older – participated in at least one sports or fitness activity in 2023, which was an increase 0f 2.2% from 2022.

I suppose this is good news, but I am not too impressed by someone who is active in a sport or two during an entire year. How often? How many days per week?

Forbes.com is brutally honest. Forbes tells us that only 28% of Americans are meeting the CDC guidelines in my first paragraph. The lowest percentages were in the South – 22%. The West was the most active – 28.5%.

According to American Spa, the most active states are:

  • Colorado – 32.5 %
  • Idaho – 31.4 %
  • New Hampshire – 30.7%
  • Vermont – 29.5%
  • Massachusetts – 29.5%

And the least active were:

  • Mississippi – 13.5%
  • Kentucky – 14.6%
  • South Carolina – 14.8%
  • Indiana – 15.1 %
  • Arkansas – 15.7 %

Bear in mind that the CDC recommends that we do 100% of the guidelines, which are not really difficult to meet.

Fitness issues, along with duty consciousness, have severely affected our U.S. military. Active duty service members now comprise less than 1% of our population. Of young adults between the ages of 17-24, over one in three is too heavy to serve in the military, even if they wanted to. Of those who do meet the weight requirements, one of four has not done the physical activity to meet basic training standards.

Frontiers in Public Health tells us that obesity is a major public health problem in the United States, that two of three adults and one of three children are overweight or obese. Obesity has been on the rise in the United States for the past few decades. This is despite many efforts to let us know of the health dangers.

Obesity is also one of the most potent risk factors for type 2 diabetes. 80-90% of type 2 diabetes patients are obese or overweight. Our problem is that this is a disabling disease that burdens individuals, families, communities and the health system.

WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT THIS?

We can certainly go outside and take walks. Several times a week if not daily. We can pick out a sport or an activity that we enjoy. For me, it was tennis. Singles far more than doubles. I never though of tennis as being fitness-related. It was fun and it inspired my competitive instincts.

We may know that jumping rope is a great exercise, but if we don’t like jump roping, we should pick some other activity. There are many sports and fitness activities from which to choose.

Habit formation is the key, in my opinion. Behavioral psychologist James Clear advises us that our lives are “essentially the sum of our habits”. The following are results of our habits:

  • How in shape or out of shape we are
  • How happy or unhappy we are
  • How successful or unsuccessful we are

Habit formation is the process by which behaviors become automatic. Habits can be formed deliberately or by accident. People have habits because they are efficient. We can get things done without wasting time or energy. Habits are built through learning and repetition.

Motivation for incentives or rewards may help us form habits. But the behavior must be repeated for several weeks or even months to become automatic. The real reward is that habits will override a loss of motivation when the habit is fully ingrained.

For example, I automatically use my turn signal when I make a turn, even when I turn into my garage with no other car nearby. I also begin my morning workout as soon as I’m out of bed.

EQUIPMENT FOR BEGINNERS

It has occurred to me that some people may not engage in exercise because they don’t know how. Walking is a great exercise. So is swimming or water aerobics. Biking. Dancing. Yoga.

There are a couple of beginner’s equipment items that help with strength building. These are from Amazon. As an Amazon associate, I may benefit from activity on their links within my posts. This is affiliate marketing. For information on this, see in my upper menu – BECOME AN AFFILIATE MARKETER.

Here are a few inexpensive items to consider:

Spike tummy trimmer

Loop exercise bands – less than $10

Resistance bands with handles

FINAL THOUGHTS

I often wonder why some of us feel that we “don’t have the time” to work out. A daily 30 minute workout is certainly a healthy endeavor. 30 minutes is roughly 2% of a 24 hour day. That leaves us 98% of our day for everything else. Are we too busy?

I also wonder about our exercise culture. Do we mock people who are in good shape? I was once criticized by a social media platform for “shaming” people who weren’t in shape. I was encouraging people to exercise more. Isn’t there a difference between encouraging and shaming?

Ultimately, we choose the shape we are in. Don’t we understand that?

Let’s pick out an activity that we enjoy and stay with it. Also, a partner is helpful for mutual encouragement and to prevent the possibility of boredom.

Please leave me any comments or questions in the “Comments” section below.

Let’s stay active!

Richard

2 Comments

  1. Richard, I feel people often feel they don’t have enough time to work out due to busy schedules and competing priorities. Balancing work, family, and social commitments can leave little room for exercise. Perceived lack of time may also stem from prioritization—choosing other activities over fitness. Additionally, some may struggle with motivation or find it challenging to incorporate exercise into their daily routine. However, making small adjustments, like scheduling workouts or choosing efficient exercises, may help overcome these barriers and prioritize physical health.  Thanks for the good read!

    • Thanks, Jason! With our health and fitness standards far beneath CDC guidelines, it seems that we in the U.S. are in a bit of a crisis. We can get up earlier in the morning, take walks on our lunch break, take stairs rather than elevators. I see a societal change that is baffling. We can do better. If we choose to. 

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