Tennesseans Slack On Exercise, UT Study Shows (305)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The number of Tennesseans who exercise regularly must rise 50 percent in three years to meet a national goal for healthy exercise, a University of Tennessee-Knoxville study shows.

 Analysis of state data by UT-Knoxville’s Community Health Research Group found that 13 percent of Tennessee adults exercise vigorously for 20 minutes at least three times a week.

 Dr. Sandra Putnam, the study director, said Tennessee lags far behind the U.S. Center for Disease Control’s target of 20 percent of adults getting regular, vigorous exercise by the year 2000.

 Putnam said 480,000 adult Tennesseans exercise regularly. To meet the CDC goals, another 260,000 would have to join them, she said.

Putnam said 40 percent of Tennessee men and women reported doing no exercise for at least a month prior to the survey, and 26 percent reported doing less than three light, 20-minute workouts per week.

 “Two-thirds of Tennessee adults have a physically inactive, sedentary lifestyle that includes little or no exercise and increases the risk of heart disease and other chronic conditions,” Putnam said. “Our survey shows that Tennessee has a long way to go to reach the recommended targets for physical activity.”

 Walking was the most popular workout, cited by 50 percent of Tennesseans who exercise. Aerobics, running, yard work, jogging and bicycling were other popular forms of exercise, Putnam said.

 Dr. Ed Howley, a UT-Knoxville exercise physiologist, said the study may reflect a lack of bicycle trails, sidewalks and other facilities to encourage physical activity.

 “It (low exercise rate) may be less of an exercise physiology concern than a social concern about opportunities for people to be physically active,” Howley said. “Do we have enough parks (and) green spaces where people can walk or ride bikes safely? Those questions have implications about what can be done in communities to encourage people to be more active.”

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 Contact: Dr. Sandra Putnam (423-974-4612) or  Dr. Ed Howley (423-974-1294)