Exercise is just a little bit less of a priority to Americans this year compared with last, and only one in five U.S. adults is getting the recommended amount of exercise, according to two new reports.
The first report, released by Gallup researchers, examined the number of Americans regularly exercising this year compared with last. In April 2013, 52.4 percent of Americans said they exercised for at least a half hour three days a week. The same time last year, 53.9 percent of Americans said they exercised with that frequency, according to Gallup researchers.
The number of Americans saying they exercise for at least a half hour three days a week was also lower in March 2013 than March 2012 -- 51.2 percent versus 53.3 percent -- February 2013 than February 2012 -- 49.2 percent versus 51 percent -- and January 2013 than January 2012 -- 47.7 percent versus 49.1 percent.
Gallup researchers noted that winter had been unusually cold this year, which might explain the lower numbers of people exercising. The findings are based on phone surveys of 30,252 adults throughout the U.S.
In the second new report, released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, government researchers found that only 20 percent of Americans get the recommended two-and-a-half hours a week of moderate aerobic exercise plus two or more days of strength exercise.
The report, based on phone survey results from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, also showed that about half of all Americans do the recommended aerobic exercise, and 30 percent do the recommended strength exercise.
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It Staves Off Cravings
In the course of a <a href="http://news.health.com/2012/09/18/exercise-curbs-appetite/">Brigham Young University study</a>, 18 normal-weighted and 17 clinically obese women were followed for two full days. On the first day, they exercised for 45 minutes, walking briskly on a treadmill, and then looked at 240 photographs, 120 of which were food (the other 120 were a control: flowers). The researchers then tracked the women's food intake and activity level for the rest of the day. On the second day, one week later, the women were shown the images without the workout. Again their food and exercise choices were tracked. Researchers found that both the obese women and the women at a healthy weight had a lower brain response to the images of food and moved around more following the 45 minute morning workout.
It Frees Up Your Day
This is an obvious one, but getting your workout in before work means that you'll be up for impromptu happy hour or dinner plans. No more "I can't, I have spinning" for you!
It Helps You Stick To It
What's more, getting your workout out of the way first means you'll actually do it. "If you work out before your day distracts you, your chances of exercising regularly go way up," Cedric Bryant, Ph.D., chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise <a href="http://www.womenshealthmag.com/life/morning-workout">told <em>Women's Health</em></a>.
It Ups Your Energy
When you exercise, the effort helps to deliver oxygen and nutrients to muscles, organs and other tissues. And that means your whole cardiovascular system will work more efficiently, <a href="http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/exercise/HQ01676" target="_hplink">upping your energy</a>, according to the Mayo Clinic.
It Jump Starts Your Brain
Exercise has both short-term and <a href="http://www.medpagetoday.com/PrimaryCare/ExerciseFitness/17907">long-term</a> brain benefits. Research shows that the short-term benefits<a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19276839"> include better executive function and memory recall</a>. That brain boost means that a morning workout <em>could</em> take the place of a caffeine fix.