In U.S., Nearly Half Exercise Less Than
Three Days a Week
who are exercising experience more happiness and less stress
Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index finds that only about one in four
Americans (27%) are getting 30 minutes of exercise five or more days
per week. Another 24% report exercising for at least 30 minutes on
three or four of the last seven days, while nearly half (49%) report
exercising for at least 30 minutes less than three days per week.
analyzed the results of more than 400,000 interviews, conducted from
May 2008 to April 2009, during National Physical Fitness and Sports
Month, observed every May since 1983. During the month of May the
government works to promote the Department of Health and Human Services
(DHHS) Physical Activity Guidelines. The guidelines state that in order
to garner substantial health benefits, adults need a minimum of 30
minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity at least five days a
week or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity
DHHS Physical Activity Guidelines are the result of an extensive review
of the scientific research on exercise and promote a level of physical
activity proven to provide health benefits.
Neftzger, lead researcher at Healthways, states that these health
benefits are well-documented and include "a healthy weight, the slowing
and prevention of the onset of diseases such as heart disease and type
2 diabetes, and helping to build bone strength."
at a normal weight, according to Body Mass Index (BMI) classifications,
are more likely to report exercising 30 minutes five or more days per
week than those who are overweight or obese. Of the respondents whose
BMI falls within the normal weight range, 32% report exercising on five
days or more in the last seven, compared to 28% of those who are
overweight and 20% of those who are obese.
from the differences in reported amount of exercise by BMI, there is
little demographic variation. Older Americans are slightly more likely
to say they are exercising at least 30 minutesat least five days per
week than those who are younger. Men are also more likely than women,
by a small margin, to report exercising on five or more days in a week.
addition to the well-known physical health benefits of exercise, the
Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index reveals a compelling emotional
benefit to frequent exercise. Those who exercise at least two days per
week report experiencing more happiness and less stress than those who
do not. Further, the benefits tend to increase slightly with more
frequent exercise, save for those who exercise seven days per week.
more frequently also appears to increase a person's likelihood to say
they feel well-rested and have enough energy. Again, the
Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index reveals increasing benefits for each
additional day of exercise, save for the seventh day, when benefits
subside slightly. Both of these measures peak when a person reports
getting 30 minutes of exercise six days per week.
the documented benefits of frequent exercise for an individual's
physical and emotional health, it is concerning to find that just under
50% of Americans report exercising less than three days a week.
Neftzger notes that "the benefits of exercise are not in question and
most individuals know that they should exercise, but what seems to be
lacking is the motivation." Something that can assist motivation, she
adds, is "finding a friend to exercise with you, which would also serve
to boost social time, another proven key to higher well-being."
are based on telephone interviews with over 400,000 adults in the
United States, aged 18 and older, conducted January 2008 to April 2009
as part of Gallup Poll Daily tracking. For results based on the total
sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the
maximum margin of sampling error is ± 1 percentage point. In
addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties
in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of
public opinion polls.
more information on the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being
Index visit, well-beingindex.com.