Americans are exercising more than ever, says new research. And they're also more obese than ever before, too. Are heightened stress levels to blame?
The contradictory data, being released this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that among Americans surveyed, 24 percent are meeting federal recommendations for weekly exercise. That number is actually up slightly from 2015 when only 21 percent reported meeting the government fitness recommendations.
But the same survey also found that 31 percent of Americans are obese or nearing it.
CDC researchers looked at the fitness and lifestyle habits of more than 35,000 U.S. adults through surveys.
“It’s possible the people becoming more active are already normal weight,” John Jakicic, director of the University of Pittsburgh’s Physical Activity and Weight Management Research Center, told the New York Post.
Federal recommendations encourage twice-a-week weightlifting or other strength training exercises and 75 minutes of high-intensity workouts per week such as running, or 150 minutes of moderate activity such as walking.
"People generally overstate how much they exercise," notes the New York Post, "just as they overstate their height and lowball their weight."
But despite the overstatements, the disparity is cause for concern as recent research also found the concept of "healthy obesity" to be severely flawed as health issues are likely to arise even in overweight or obese people who don't show signs of diabetes or high blood pressure.
Those who claimed higher exercise levels were also more likely to be working regular jobs. And they may also be doing it to manage stress levels. While some of that stress is surely work-related, researchers suggest it could have something to do with political and social issues causing elevated levels of concern and the needs for outlets like increased exercise.
Likewise, stress can lead to overeating, poor food choices, and increased cortisol levels all linked to weight gain and an increased risk for becoming obese. "A change in diet is needed to see any dent or reduction in obesity,” said the CDC’s Tainya Clarke, one of the authors of the report.
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