“They’re living their lives from one chair to another,” Edward Archer, a research fellow with the Nutrition Obesity Research Center, said. “We didn’t realize we were that sedentary. There are some people who are vigorously active, but it’s offset by the huge number of individuals who are inactive.”
The study examined the weight, diet, and sleep patterns of nearly 2,600 adults, aged 20 to 74, between 2005 and 2006. There were some surprising findings, besides the expected differences between men and women — like men being taller and heavier.
The report shows that men received 3.6 hours of exercise each year compared to women who exercised only for nearly a total of one. Participants wore accelerometers, enabling researchers to rely on hard data rather than self-reports, which are traditionally viewed with skepticism. The findings do not include sexual activity.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than one in three people in the United States is obese, a level above being overweight. Obesity increases the risk of cardiovascular problems such as heart disease and stroke, diabetes and some cancers.
The toll is even greater in the African American community. About four out of five African-American women are overweight or obese, according to the CDC. In 2011, the latest numbers available from the CDC, African Americans were 1.5 times as likely to be obese as Whites.
The obesity rate in the U.S. served as an impetus for first lady Michelle Obama to launch herLet’s Move! campaign in 2010. And this week, she kicked off a celebration of its fourth anniversary, beginning with an appearance on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
In celebration of the anniversary, Obama encouraged people of all ages, to show her how they move — through their everyday fitness routine, making better food choices, or by moving their community toward that new norm—on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Vine using #LetsMove.
Archer, author of the newly released Alabama study, says as little as 30 minutes of exercise five days a week can stop weight gain and improve health.
“People don’t understand that [you] don’t have to go to the gym and lift weights and run marathons to have dramatic impacts on your body,” Archer told HealthDay. “Standing rather than sitting, walking rather than taking your car, they have huge impacts on your health over time.”