By Sam Baker
Fewer than half of U.S. adults get enough exercise to improve their health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this week.
Adults are, however, getting better about walking. Sixty-two percent of adults say they walk at least 10 minutes per day, up from 56 percent in 2005, the CDC said.
The CDC recommends two and a half hours per week of “moderately intense aerobic physical activity,” such as walking.
Even with the recent gains in walking, though, only 48 percent of U.S. adults get enough physical activity to improve their health, according to data from the CDC’s National Health Interview Survey.
“It is encouraging to see these increases in the number of adults who are now walking,” said Joan M. Dorn, branch chief of the Physical Activity and Health Branch in CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity.
“But there is still room for improvement,” Dorn said. “People need more safe and convenient places to walk. People walk more where they feel protected from traffic and safe from crime. Communities can be designed or improved to make it easier for people to walk to the places they need and want to go.”
The CDC said local governments could let the public use the tracks at public schools and gyms when those facilities aren’t otherwise in use. The agency also suggested that employers “can create walking paths around or near the work place and promote them with signs and route maps.”
Westerners are especially good walkers — 68 percent of people who live in the West walk regularly, the highest of any region in the country. The biggest gains came in the South, where the percentage of regular walkers increased from 49 percent to 57 percent.
The survey found no measurable increase in walking among people with Type 2 diabetes, which is often linked to obesity.
“People who are physically active live longer and are at lower risk for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression and some cancers. Having more places for people to walk in our communities will help us continue to see increases in walking, the most popular form of physical activity among American adults,” CDC Director Thomas Frieden said in a statement.