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Many Americans Are Inactive, With Southerners Faring Worse

THURSDAY, Jan. 16, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Uncle Sam has a message for sluggish Americans: Get moving now.

More than 15% of American adults are physically inactive, a new U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study reports. And all that time on the couch or staring into a computer screen adds to the risk of health problems and premature death.

"Too many adults are inactive, and they may not know how much it affects their health," said Dr. Ruth Petersen, director of the CDC's Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity.

The CDC defined inactivity as doing no leisure-time physical activities in the past month -- such as running, walking for exercise or gardening.

"Being physically active helps you sleep better, feel better and reduce your risk of obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers," Petersen said in a CDC news release.

Her comments came as the agency unveiled new estimates of physical inactivity across states and U.S. territories.

Estimates ranged from 47.7% in Puerto Rico to 17.3% in Colorado.

Rates in seven states and two territories (Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Puerto Rico and Guam) were 30% or higher.

Southern states had the highest rate of inactivity (28%), followed by the Northeast (25.6%), Midwest (25%), and the West (20.5%).

The maps pointed to racial and ethnic differences in activity levels as well.

Hispanics had the highest rate of inactivity (31.7%), followed by blacks (30.3%) and whites (23.4%).

Rates were 30% or more among whites in five states and Puerto Rico; among Hispanics in 22 states and Puerto Rico, and among blacks in 23 states and the District of Columbia.

Inactivity contributes to 1 in 10 premature deaths in the United States and is associated with $117 billion in annual health care costs, according to the CDC.

The new maps are based on 2015-2018 data from an ongoing telephone survey conducted by the CDC and state health departments.

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute offers a guide to physical activity.

SOURCE: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, news release, Jan. 16, 2020

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