Leisure Inactivity Levels Highest in U.S. South, Appalachia

Nearly a third of adults in some areas get no leisure-time physical activity

THURSDAY, Feb. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Levels of leisure-time inactivity vary around the country, but the proportion of U.S. adults who do not engage in physical activity outside of work is highest -- nearly 30 percent -- in parts of the South and Appalachia, according to estimates released Feb. 16 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The new data include 2004 to 2008 county-level estimates of leisure-time physical activity for all counties in the United States. The estimates are from the CDC's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, which uses self-reported data from state-based adult telephone surveys and 2007 census information. Survey participants were asked whether they participated in any physical activities or exercise outside of their regular jobs.

According to the new estimates, states with the greatest number of adults inclined toward leisure-time physical activities include West Coast states, Colorado, Minnesota, and some Northeastern areas. States where adults are less likely to participate in leisure-time physical activity are Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Tennessee, where physical inactivity rates are at least 29.2 percent for more than 70 percent of counties.

"Physical activity is crucial to managing diabetes and reducing serious complications of the disease," Ann Albright, Ph.D., R.D., director of the CDC's Division of Diabetes Translation, said in a statement. "Moderate intensity activities such as dancing or brisk walking, for just 150 minutes a week, can significantly improve the health of people with diabetes or at high risk for the disease."

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