The exercise habits of the average American are appalling, according to a study recently published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
For the study, scientists tracked the activity of 2,600 people for two years. They found that obese women average a mere 11 seconds a day of vigorous exercise (that's about an hour a year), while men and women of normal weight exercised vigorously -- engaging in fat-burning activities such as jogging or jumping rope -- for fewer than two minutes daily, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“We’ve engineered physical activity out of our daily lives and that’s causing the health disparities that we have in this country,” the study’s lead author, Edward Archer, told the news outlet. “How you spend your day determines whether you store your food as fat or store your food in your muscle, healthfully.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that adults get at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise or 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week, in addition to bi-weekly muscle-strengthening activities.
The new study shows that people of normal weight do put in between 150 and 240 minutes of moderate exercise (engaging in activities like golf and yoga) weekly, the LA Times pointed out. However, the study confirms that obese people can become trapped in a “vicious cycle” of inactivity and weight gain, Archer told the LA Times.
"[People are] living their lives from one chair to another," Archer told HealthDay. "We didn't realize we were that sedentary. There are some people who are vigorously active, but it's offset by the huge number of individuals who are inactive."
According to the CDC, two out of every three people in the United States are overweight or obese. Being overweight, the CDC says, increases the risk of cardiovascular problems such as heart disease and stroke, hypertension, diabetes, respiratory problems and some cancers. According to Stanford Hospital and Clinics, "each year obesity-related conditions cost over $150 billion dollars and cause an estimated 300,000 premature deaths in the U.S."
With these risks in mind, it's crucial, experts say, for people to start getting off the couch and moving their bodies.
"People don't understand that [you] don't have to go to the gym and lift weights and run marathons to have dramatic impacts on your body," Archer told HealthDay. "Standing rather than sitting, walking rather than taking your car, they have huge impacts on your health over time."
For ideas on some unique ways to shake up an exercise routine, check out the slideshow below: