Friday, February 18, 2011

New Maps, Same Problem: Inactivity

It's no real surprise.  Not only are most of us not getting enough exercise to meet health guidelines, a large chunk of us aren't getting any physical activity at all.  New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that 25 percent of adults spend none of their free time exercising or doing any other type of physical activity.

This rate, though, can vary greatly from region to region, and even county by county.  The latest report shows that some counties had inactivity rates as low as 10 percent, while others had rates as high as four times that.

As the map below shows (Figure 1), states with the highest rates of inactivity were largely in the south, while states on the west and east coasts had generally lower rates.  Not likely by coincidence, this clustering of inactivity tracks very closely with poverty rates (Figure 2) and highlights the multi-layered issues that come into play when it comes to health and disease.

Figure 1 - Physical Inactivity
Figure 2 - Poverty
Poverty, education, income, health care access, and quality of infrastructure (like sidewalks and bike paths) all play an important role in the healthy choices we make.  Yes, it all comes down to a personal choice - choosing to get out the door for a walk or sit on the couch and watch TV - but the healthy choice is always easier to make when the people, places, and policies that surround us support that choice.

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