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31 Million Older Americans Do Not Exercise Enough: CDC

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Past studies have shown that sedentary behavior — spending too much time sitting or lying down — has negative implications to a person's health.

Now, a new report has revealed that one in four Americans aged 50 years old and above are at risk of developing heart disease, cancer and diabetes because they do not engage in physical activity.

Experts from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analyzed the results of a national health survey conducted in 2014, which focused on elderly Americans. In the report, inactivity was defined as moving around only to complete daily routine tasks.

The report discovered that 31 million elderly Americans are physically inactive — more than 29 percent of women and almost 26 percent of men.

When it comes to racial differences, one-third of blacks and Hispanics were inactive, while 26 percent of whites were inactive. About 27 percent of people in other ethnic and racial groups also do exercise daily.

Researchers found that the older the individual gets, the less likely they will exercise. For instance, 35 percent of elderly Americans aged 75 and above were inactive; 27 percent for 65 to 74-year-old Americans; and 25 percent for those aged 50 to 64 years old.

Southerners were also the least likely to conduct any physical activity, as 30 percent of them were inactive. On the other hand, 28 percent of elderly Americans in the Midwest were inactive, while the rate was 27 percent in the Northeast and 23 percent in the West.

When it comes to being active, the state of Colorado had more active adults, with about 82 percent of elder Americans getting enough exercise. Those in Arkansas were the least physically active, with only about 61 percent of elderlies exercising daily, researchers said.

Elder adults who carried extra pounds were less likely to be physically active, while adults who had more education were more apt to exercise. Not surprisingly, 32 percent of adults with chronic illness were more inactive compared with those who were not ill.

Why Physical Activity Is Important

Janet Fulton, the study's co-author, said adults reap benefits from any amount or type of physical activity. What's more, helping inactive adults exercise more is a crucial step toward healthier communities.

Kathleen Watson, lead author of the report, said more work must be done to make sure that people of all ages and all abilities in communities are physically active.

Details of the new research are published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Photo: Susan Huyett | Flickr

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