map of U.S. inactivity levels
Thompson said Georgia lacks basic infrastructure supporting exercise, such as public transportation, which would require at least walking to a bus or subway stop. Georgia communities invest less in public parks than other states. They are less walk-friendly, more car-dependent.
Colorado had the lowest percentage of people owning up to physical inactivity, at 17.3%, and Puerto Rico had the highest, 47.7%, according to the study.
In seven other states and one territory 30% or more of the adults were physically inactive.
The CDC report found stark differences in physical inactivity levels when broken down by race and ethnicity. In the country overall, people who identified themselves as Hispanic had the highest prevalence of self-reported physical inactivity (31.7%), followed by non-Hispanic black (30.3%) and non-Hispanic white (23.4%).
In Georgia, 36.2% of Hispanic people are physically inactive, and 31% of non-Hispanic black people.
When starting an exercise program, start small, such as going on a short walk. Take advantage of parks, walking trails and other free spots for walking. File photo of the Beltline’s Eastside trail.
Expert say the lack of physical activity has far-ranging health consequences. Those states with the highest levels of couch potatoes also have the highest levels of obesity, as well as obesity-related illnesses, including Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. One in 10 premature deaths can be linked to not being physically active, the CDC has said. Inadequate levels of physical activity are also associated with $117 billion in annual healthcare costs, the agency said.
National guidelines recommend at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of both, preferably spread throughout the week.
Thompson said that people who are completely inactive should avoid rushing into an ambitious exercise regimen and instead begin by making small behavioral changes — choose the stairs over an escalator, park farther away from your destination, walk the dog or take a short stroll in the neighborhood. And then, little by little, build on that physical activity, so the half-mile walk grows into a mile, and so on.
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Experts recommend trying different forms of exercise and go with the one that is fun. In this 2018 file photo, Jazzercise president Shanna Missett Nelson, daughter of the CEO and founder, teaches a standing-room-only class at a newly opened center in Spokane, Wash. (Dan Pelle/The Spokesman-Review/TNS)
Matt Gunby, co-owner CrossFit East Decatur, recommends that those who want to become more active give serious thought to both short-term and long-term goals.
“A lot of times, people will walk in and say they want to lose 40 pounds. But we try to get deeper, and they’ll say, ‘I want to play with my kids or grandkids.’ Once they establish those goals, it can be easier to establish a commitment.”
Gunby also recommends that people get outside their comfort zone. Try something new, he said, whether that’s CrossFit, an aerobics class, or a walking club. And, he said, there’s nothing wrong with visiting several exercise clubs and programs to find a good fit.
Make it convenient, he said.
“One of the first things I ask is, ‘Where do you live?’ It’s hard enough to get a habit going four or five times a week, and you don’t want the hindrance of joining something across town,” he said.
7 WAYS TO GET MORE EXERCISE
The American Council on Exercise recommends the following tips for starting an exercise program. Begin by getting the OK from your health-care provider.
1. Go with fun. The best way to keep fit is to choose exercises you enjoy. Consider aqua aerobics, yoga, Pilates, tai chi, line dancing, square dancing, ballroom dancing or even just walking the dog.
2. Start low and go slow. Begin with small amounts of low-intensity exercise.
3. Up the intensity. Once you can easily complete low-intensity activity, you are ready to increase your effort.
4. Flex those muscles. Resistance or weight training will help strengthen muscles, build sturdy bones and increase your metabolism.
5. Plan ahead. At the start of each week, look at your schedule and plan your physical activity.
6. Chart your progress. Keep track of your activity on a calendar or activity log. It’s motivating.
7. Ditch the “all-or-nothing” mentality. Even if you can’t meet your weekly goal for activity and strength training, doing something is always better than doing nothing.
Things to do in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward neighborhood Visit the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park See Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birth home And historic Ebenezer Baptist Church Bring your pup to Fetch dog park Shop and eat at Ponce City Market Stroll through the Sweet Auburn Curb Market Check out the bars along Edgewood Roll into the Historic Fourth Ward Skatepark Explore the Beltline's Eastside Trail