Health Conditions Hub Obesity

Many Obese People Get Far Too Little Exercise

Study finds average heavy man works out only 3.6 hours a year and the average obese woman gets just 1 hour of exercise a year

Obese folks in this country are leading mostly sedentary lives, according to a new study that focused on finding better ways to measure how much people exercise. The findings suggest that obese women get a paltry hour of vigorous exercise (jumping rope, jogging) a year, while obese men clocked in at fewer than four hours annually.

More than one in three people in the United States is obese, which increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke and some cancers.

“They’re living their lives from one chair to another,” says Edward Archer, a research fellow with the Nutrition Obesity Research Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “We didn’t realize we were that sedentary. There are some people who are vigorously active, but it’s offset by the huge number of individuals who are inactive. The vast majority are not moving at all.”

Though as few as 30 minutes of exercise five days a week can improve health, many people believe they need to spend hours in the gym or train for marathons to make a change. “Standing rather than sitting, walking rather than taking your car—they have huge impacts on your health over time,” Archer says.

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Those 30-minute sessions are just as effective split into several periods. Five to 10 minutes of activity two to three times each day is a good way to get obese people started. The key, the researchers say, is to move.

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