Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Lazy Americans Have New Hope in `Accumulated' Fitness Rates

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Lazy Americans Have New Hope in `Accumulated' Fitness Rates

Article excerpt

Despite the hype about a fitness boom in this country, American adults are, on the whole, a lazy bunch.

Consider:

About 25 percent of the adult population is sedentary.

About 250,000 deaths each year are attributed to inactivity. In fact, inactivity is as much of a risk factor for disease as are high blood pressure, obesity and smoking.

That's scary stuff. The good news is the remedy isn't complicated. It involves working a little moderate exercise into your daily routine.

That's the word from fitness experts who gathered in Washington, D.C., recently to announce new recommendations on physical activity.

What qualifies as "moderate exercise?" Anything from dancing to climbing stairs to walking your dog, said Russell R. Pate, president of the American College of Sports Medicine and a panelist at the Washington briefing. Also represented were the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.

It might not sound like much, but engaging in 30 minutes of accumulated physical activity almost every day will reduce your risk of coronary disease.

The "accumulated" part means you don't have to perform 30 minutes of consecutive exercise. You can walk to the bus stop in the morning. Walk again on your way home from work. And rake leaves in the evening. If all the activities add up to at least 30 minutes, you're in good shape.

"We're hopeful that the millions and millions of adult Americans who are sedentary or rarely active will see this as an attractive approach to developing a more active lifestyle," said Pate, who also serves as professor and chairman of the Department of Exercise Science at the University of South Carolina in Columbia.

The new recommendation certainly should be viewed as less intimidating than the old one, especially by sedentary people. The previous recommendation called for 20 minutes of vigorous, continuous aerobic activity, three to five times a week.

"If you're following the traditional recommendation, that's fine," Pate said. "We don't want to be viewed as discouraging that because the traditional guideline meets the new guideline."

The problem is, only 10 to 12 percent of the population is meeting the traditional guideline. …

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