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CDC Study Reveals Which Americans Have the Most Physically Active Leisure Time

Feb. 16, 2011 -- People in the South and the Appalachian region are the least likely of all Americans to be physically active in their leisure time, the CDC says in a new report.

The CDC analyzed all counties in the country and found that in many regions, more than 29% of adults reported getting no physical activity or exercise at all, other than what they might get on the job.

States where residents are least likely to be physically active in leisure time are Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. In those states, physical inactivity rates are 29.2% or greater for more than 70% of counties.

States where residents are most likely to be active in their free time are California, Colorado, Hawaii, Minnesota, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.

The CDC says that a 2008 survey found that 25.4% of adults in the U.S. failed to spend any free time being physically active, which includes walking, gardening, golfing, or running.

Physical Activity and Diabetes

The CDC has maps for all U.S. counties showing estimated levels of diabetes and obesity. Taken together, the maps show the highest levels of diagnosed diabetes and obesity also are found in the South and parts of Appalachia. And the regions with the lowest levels of diabetes and obesity are in the West and Northeast.

“Physical activity is crucial to managing diabetes and reducing serious complications of the disease,” the CDC’s Ann Albright, PhD, RD, says in a news release. Albright, director of the CDC’s division of diabetes translation, says even activities of moderate intensity “such as dancing or brisk walking for just 150 minutes a week can significantly improve the health of people with diabetes or at high risk for the disease.”

The CDC’s Janet E. Fulton, PhD, says chronic diseases such as diabetes and problems such as obesity can be battled if communities make it safe and easy to exercise.

“Sidewalks, street lights, and access to parks or recreation areas can encourage people to get and move more,” says Fulton, of the CDC’s division of nutrition, physical activity, and obesity.

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