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Press Release

For Immediate Release: November 27, 1998
Contact: CDC Media Relations (404) 639-3286

New CDC Study Finds Physical Inactivity for Nearly One-Third Americans, with Significant Differences Between Urban and Rural Areas

Physical inactivity is prevalent in all areas of the United States, particularly in rural areas and the South, according to a report released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 1996, the overall level of physical inactivity among adults 18 years and older was nearly 30 percent--almost twice the national year 2000 health objective of 15 percent.

"As a new year begins, almost one third of Americans should be making a resolution to get the moderate physical activity they need," said HHS Secretary Donna E. Shalala. "You don't need to be a star athlete to get excerise -- but you need to set aside time for moderate physical activity in order to get the health benefits."

Moderate physical activity can help to reduce chronic disease, such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and colon cancer.

The report, published today in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, surveyed nearly 119,000 Americans who reported their physical activity status in the previous month. People in all parts of the country are physically inactive, but more are inactive (37 percent) in rural areas (populations below 2,500) and fewer are inactive (about 27 percent) in central metro areas (populations of 1 million or more).

Differences in physical activity are greater for men living in urban and rural areas (25 percent and 37 percent respectively) than for women and in urban and rural areas (29 percent and 36 percent respectively).

"This assessment provides insight into differences in physical inactivity patterns between urban and rural populations, which is relevant to the development of programs to increase physical activity," said Dr. David Satcher, Assistant Secretary for Health and Surgeon General. "There are many things that Americans can do to incorporate physical activity into their lives. We should take advantage of our nation's vast park and recreation systems," Satcher said.

CDC has developed and distributed a marketing kit "Physical Activity, It's Everywhere You Go" to help local health professionals and organizations promote physical activity in their communities. The kit emphasizes that physical activity is fun, social, and healthy and suggests many ways busy people can fit at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity (such as brisk walking) into their daily routine on 5 or more days of the week.


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