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Inactivity rates on the rise

More than half of all American women don’t exercise at all, and 43% of men are equally inactive—that according to the recently released results of a study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The findings, however, are predicated on a survey of 7,000 people conducted in 2009 and 2010, and, although they may no longer be current, reflect a dramatic jump from the results of a similar study conducted in the early 1990s. Then, only 19% of women and 11% of men were inactive.

The newest statistics come from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, an ongoing effort by the CDC to collect information about Americans’ health via both surveys and physical examinations.

As one might expect, obesity rates also jumped during the same period - that according to an analysis by Stanford University researchers published in the August issue of The American Journal of Medicine.

There are many reasons for these troubling developments, says Pamela Powers Hannley, the editor of JAMA.Many women work long hours, and then spend their “spare” time parenting, not jogging. Exercise alternatives need to be convenient and low-cost, Hannley suggests.

The incidence of abdominal obesity also has climbed, from 46% to 62% in women, and from 29% to 42% in men. (Abdominal girth has been linked to increased risks of cancer and cardio- vascular disease, even in individuals of normal weight.)

“It’s going to take widespread change (to curtail obesity) - not just individual change, not just an app for your iPhone,” observes Hannley. 

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