Vast majority of U.S. adults do not meet fitness guidelines

In 2022, 22.5% of adults met federal guidelines for both muscle-strengthening and aerobic physical activity. The percentage of adults who met these guidelines increased with increasing educational attainment, from 12.2% among adults who completed high school or less to 33.6% among those with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

The aerobic physical activity guideline was met if the respondent reported engaging in ≥150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity or ≥75 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination. The muscle-strengthening guideline was met if the respondent reported performing muscle-strengthening activities on ≥2 days per week.[end quote]

All of us can do the math.
7 out of 8 among adults who completed high school or less do not meet fitness guidelines. I guess this isn’t surprising because many of these have tiring service jobs that don’t leave them the energy to spend in fitness activities.

2 out of 3 among those with a bachelor’s degree or higher do not meet fitness guidelines.

This data has a truly Macroeconomic impact. It’s been said that the U.S. government is an insurance company with an army. Medicare is already the largest single government expenditure, much higher than Social Security. Lack of fitness is correlated to chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer which are very expensive to treat.

I wonder whether the Congressional Budget Office has taken the lack of fitness into account in their forecasts.



This isn’t a snarky question. Would a tiring service job count as some kind of conditioning? True, one isn’t in a gym or jogging, but physical activity is physical activity. It doesn’t need to be ‘organized’.


I had 3 months of cardiac rehab earlier this year and one thing I learned is not all activity is heart healthy. Any physical activity is better than sitting on a couch. Or desk chair. But if you want to strengthen your heart what you are doing, duration and intensity does matter. In short, physical activity is not physical activity.

My routine asks for 40 minutes at a target heart rate 4X per week.


I’m pretty sure that fitness will improve once we return to a subsistence economy and people need to do hard physical work to survive. {{ LOL }}

Bipartisan political corruption and climate change will be the drivers.



There are technical descriptions of physical activity in terms of the amount of oxygen used by the body. A job that meets the criteria (for example, a hotel maid who makes 50 king-sized beds each day or a construction worker hanging drywall) would qualify as having significant physical activity if their pulse rate rose and oxygen consumption increased accordingly. A fast-food worker who walks several miles a day behind the counter would qualify. A computer operator or a person who stands all day but doesn’t move enough to raise their heart rate would not.

I do Zumba 3 times per week, aiming for a heart rate over 120 beats per minute. I also do a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) class twice a week which uses weights and also raises the heart rate.



Visiting Spain last month I was stunned at the visible difference in bodies all around me in comparison to the USA. USA bodies are getting steadily worse, and Spain (at least Mallorca and Madrid where I spent real time in the streets) is getting significantly better.

When I asked old friends why, nobody knew nothing. The gay guys (who tend to pay more attention) agreed that something had happened. My bet, governmental nudging.

d fb


No. Up until about 2 years ago I walked 8-10 miles a day at a brisk pace for exercise. That’s about what an Amazon “stock picker” walked in an 8-hour shift prior to robots performing that function. I often wondered if I should get a job at the Amazon warehouse since I was doing the walking anyway, but there was too great a penalty in earning wage & salary income.

Now I only walk about 6 miles a day, but I go to a steep hill (11% grade) about a mile and half away and and then walk up & down hill as fast as I can 10 or 12 times. That’s adding more of an aerobic component to the walking. I’ve also started to do pull-ups, sit-ups and Burpies for 15-20 minutes a day. I hate doing it, but it seems to be necessary if you’re waiting until age 70 to start Social Security and you want to live long enough to make it a good deaL { { LOL }}



“This isn’t a snarky question. Would a tiring service job count as some kind of conditioning? True, one isn’t in a gym or jogging, but physical activity is physical activity. It doesn’t need to be ‘organized’.”

Of course a physically demanding job builds strength. Need to add aerobic conditioning to it, though, the heart is a big muscle that needs to be worked. I’m retired, so I get to “play” a lot, kind of a fitness freak, so get a lot of aerobic work. But when I do actual work, such as helping roof or build, or landscaping, my body definitely feels it. I spend some hours most every day in my garage workshop, and I get tired from being on my feet on concrete, even though the HR is not elevated. I see people spend hours in their garden, or working on their yard landscaping, that is strength and endurance building.

1 Like

“Visiting Spain last month I was stunned at the visible difference in bodies all around me in comparison to the USA. USA bodies are getting steadily worse, and Spain (at least Mallorca and Madrid where I spent real time in the streets) is getting significantly better.”

To me, it just feels better to be physically active, feels like a better way to live ( for me, to each their own way ). I try to do a 3 or 4 hour hike in the woods once a week, in hills, and it’s pretty amazing how good that can make you feel. And it’s low impact. I Like hikes with river and/or inland lake views, and luv getting out to the lakeshore and hiking in the dunes. Being active becomes a way of life, I don’t know if it’s a hobby or a lifestyle, but it’s well worth pursuing if possible.

And there are a fair amount of people out doing the same thing, there are some fit older people out and about.


Definitely would be.

The issue is what you eat. If you feel entitled to ding dongs because you worked hard…or a few beers…then no nothing you do activity wise counts.

That goes for the Olympic gold medalist who goes to the gym later in life but eats Twinkies as a pick me up.

It looks to me that obesity thins out the 65-74 cohort.
Could be obesity is the key to Medicare survival in the future?

Percent of noninstitutionalized persons with obesity (2015-2018)

Men ages 65–74: 41.9%
Men age 75 and older: 31.8%
Women ages 65–74: 45.9%
Women age 75 and older: 36.1%

Americans seem to be getting fatter as time passes.
Table 26. Normal weight, overweight, and obesity among adults aged 20 and over, by selected characteristics:
United States, selected years 1988–1994 through 2015–2018
65–74 years. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
1988-94 24.1%
1999-2002 31.9%
2003-06 33.0%
2007-10 41.5%
2011-14 36.2%
2015-18 41.9%

75 years and over . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
1988-94 13.2%
1999-2002 18.0%
2003-06 24.0%
2007-10 26.6%
2011-14 26.8%
2015-18 31.8%

65–74 years. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
1988-94 26.9%
1999-2002 39.3%
2003-06 36.4%
2007-10 40.3%
2011-14 40.7%
2015-18 45.9%

75 years and over . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
1988-94 19.2%
1999-2002 23.6%
2003-06 24.2%
2007-10 28.7%
2011-14 30.5%
2015-18 36.1%

1 Like

That’s true. So it’s not clear whether obesity is causing a higher death rate or whether the older cohort was less obese than the younger cohort.

Big data shows that death rates in the elderly follow a U-shaped curve. Highest with BMI < 19 and over 30. Lowest death rate for the slightly overweight (BMI 25 to 30).


1 Like

Finally, I’m catching a break!



Maybe…but remember, Big Data tends not to be nuanced data. About a decade ago, there was the usual kerfuffle and banner headlines in the press surrounding a “new” study that purported to show this very thing…that older folk in the overweight category were “healthier”.

It was pretty soundly trounced once the data were analysed and it became clear that the statistics concerned “mortality”…i.e. those who’d died…and not health per se. The real confounder, though, was that the stats were based on bodyweight at or around time of death. A pretty important detail because a heck of a lot of folk die of diseases that result in significant weight loss in the weeks/months before death and this wasn’t accounted for at all in the study.

One thing that was mentioned in the discussion…and I confess that I didn’t rate it that much at the time (as I didn’t perceive it as applying to me)…and that was the idea that folk who present to their doctors with a healthy weight are frequently assumed to be healthy and not receive the scrutiny that the overweight do. There are a couple of us here who can attest to the reality of that notion.


Don’t take this away from me, please!!! The world is going to hell and it might be all I have!! Just a moment of hope is all I ask.



But you might well be as much an outlier in your way as I am. Never been fat, body composition right on point, exercise habits enviably on point and consistent…and 3 coronary arteries with > 80% occlusion.

What has me symptom free and operating at close to the capacity I have to accept is realistic (a sub 50 minute 10k isn’t likely on my docket for the future…thanks to my feet)…is exercise. Specifically,
focused endurance and strength training. Although it’s common to hear/see exclamations of “you can’t outrun a bad diet”…which is true, up to a point…it’s a mistake to underestimate the power of a well planned exercise programme to maximize your fitness and health at any weight (within reason, of course).

1 Like

And there it goes - you’ve taken my moment of zen away! I’m back in the doldrums and rue the day I was born! Oh well, it was fun for a moment.

Thank you,



No, you read it wrong.

I’m an outlier in that I’ve done everything right…and still developed a condition that’s commonly associated with overweight/obesity. Your outlierness might have you at the other end off the continuum…in that, the bit of extra chonk you’re carrying might be no problem at all for you.

1 Like

but the percentage of people who survive to 95 years old rises if they have a bit more belly or hip fat. Not obesity but you need fat to get into your much later years of life.

The actuarial tables are great at telling us very thin people live longer than average. But as I am saying people with some fat out live them.

1 Like

So strip out the data. In fact, narrow the study to four people in my case. My grandmother, her closest male sibling, my aunt, and my mother. We all have bellies. We all can live into our 90s. With my great uncle living to 94. My grandmother 98. My aunt and mother easily going into their early 90s as they go past their mid-80s currently. In fact, my aunt is late 80s now.

One word, “Mitochondria”. Either you have it or you don’t to put it loosely. This leads to the second word, “Stress”. Either you can reduce it and extend your mitochondria or you can’t.

Reducing stress is relative. High-stress people are better off when they can reduce stress. The release is much better. Mitochondria extends again. If you do not relieve stress you die sooner.

Males who want an even keel may be fooling themselves. In the old days of males smoking and drinking and burying one’s head in the sand life expectancy suffered.

Partiers are fooling themselves. Plus burning the wick down as fast as possible. However, Grandma had wine in the nursing home from 95 to 97. She also was running with her walker till her lungs began to give out end of her 97th year. She was smoking unfiltered cigarettes to age 44.

We have very little cancer or heart disease on either side of my family. That strips out most of 50% of the earlier age mortality rate.

If you care about this discussion take the same look without the big data. Because averages are not your life.

Looking at piles of data means zero.

1 Like