CDC: Americans Walking More, Few Exercise Enough

More Americans took regular walks in 2010 than they did in 2005, but fewer than half got as much physical activity as they should, a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows.

Around 62 percent of adults walked for 10 minutes or more at least once in the previous week in 2010, compared to 56 percent in 2005. But just 48 percent got their federally recommended 150 minutes of moderate physical activity, the report shows.

Nationwide, the West had the higher percentage of regular walkers (68 percent); this regionan has traditionally had lower levels of obesity than other other regions. So it’s promising that the South, which has the highest levels of excessive weight and obesity in the country, had the biggest gains in walking – from 49 percent in 2005 to 57 percent in 2010.

Regular physical activity – even just a daily walk — has multiple benefits, from better heart health and lower diabetes risk to lower risk of stroke, some cancers, and premature death.

“Physical activity is the wonder drug,” CDC director Thomas R. Frieden, M.D, tells Reuters. “It makes you healthier and happier. More Americans are making a great first step in getting more physical activity.”