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How much exercise do you get each week and how do you compare to others?

Pick up any magazine or newspaper and you are sure to find an article on physical fitness. And, you will likely find a myriad of recommendations for how much time you should be spending in some form of activity where your heart rate increases and you use your major muscle groups. Generally, that recommendation is 30 minutes a day for at least five days a week Many popular fitness websites and gurus now are recommending a half hour for at least six days. Further, if you are interested in weight loss, you need to be doing 45 minutes of moderate to intense exercise. The half-hour recommendation is for maintenance and general fitness.

How much do YOU exercise each week? Curious as to how your state stacks up on the percentage of adults who meet exercise guidelines? Then look no further than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you think that people living in cold-weather states exercise less, where exercising outdoors may be a problem, guess again. Take Wisconsin, for example. There, 22.3 percent of its adult population exercises the minimum each week, and where the snow would probably be a deterrent for anyone south of the Mason-Dixon Line (if exercising outdoors).

But then, there is Mississippi, a state that never sees snow, and where you would think exercising would be fairly easy to do (except on extremely high humidity days--but then, you just exercise indoors!). You would be wrong--only 14.2 percent of the adult population exercises the minimum each week. That being the case, it should come as no surprise, then, that Mississippi also has a 34.6 percent obesity rate among its adults.

The CDC’s standard for exercise is 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity weekly and muscle-strengthening activities at least twice a week. If you are a senior citizen, you need to put in at least two half hours of weight training a week (not on consecutive days), often labeled muscle-strengthening exercise. People who are physically inactive can lose up to 5 percent of their muscle mass per decade after age 30. That means getting up from the couch is an effort, and you need a boost to do even that. Lifting a bag of groceries becomes a problem when your muscles cannot do simple tasks for you. Without strong muscles, your quality of life does go down in your latter years, and frailty takes over. The medical term for this is sarcopenia.

If you want to see where your state ranks for the least inactive people—that means you have some smart folks who want to live longer—check out this map. New Mexico, Minnesota, Colorado, Utah, Oregon, Arizona, Illinois, Virginia, and California rank in the upper echelons for people who exercise. (Note: The statistics from the CDC cover 2011.)

When you look at the maps for those who exercise, for those who do not exercise, and the rate of obesity, you can see a pattern. The pattern is obvious to this writer. Can you see it? (Hint: look for a geographical section of the United States) If so, do comment on my article on the website.

For those in the Albuquerque area, you can find wonderful fitness programs designed specifically for you at the Presbyterian Healthplex. Monthly dues are low, and you get a personal trainer who takes your medical history and works with you to come up with a plan tailored to your fitness needs and medical issues.

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