Have you spent the past few months enjoying the unseasonably warm winter weather? While it’s certainly troubling from an environmental perspective, a new Gallup exercise poll reveals a silver lining: moderate temperatures may have kept us exercising more in 2011 and early 2012.
"The mild winter weather may be a contributing factor to this increased level of frequent exercise, as January 2012 was the fourth warmest January on record in the United States," wrote Megan Cochrane over on Gallup's Well-Being report. The data came from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index -- an ongoing survey that looks at the health behaviors of Americans, broken down by state, as well as health statistics for Germany and the United Kingdom.
Overall, our exercise habits haven't changed much over the past few years. The new data shows that 51.6 percent of Americans exercise for at least 30 minutes, three days a week -- and that number has hovered around 51 percent since 2008. It's worth noting that this is still insubstantial: according to CDC's Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, we need at least 150 minutes of vigorous activity per week to stay healthy. Still, those who get 90 minutes of physical activity are far better off than the 30 percent who get absolutely no exercise.
And while 2008-2010 numbers were similar, there has been one major point of departure: exercise levels in December 2011, January 2012 and February 2012 have been significantly elevated over previous years. In fact, percentages of Americans who reported exercising in December jumped from 44.4 percent in 2008 to 47.4 percent in 2011. January 2012 was the fourth warmest on record and was also an active month, with 49.1 percent of respondents exercising (compared to 45.2 in 2009). February saw 51 percent of respondents exercising, compared to 47 percent in 2009. Those might not seem like big jumps, but they are relatively large compared to the lack of movement elsewhere in the data. And a previous data report in July 2011 was cause for concern among some Gallup analysts, who noted a dip.
So what else did the poll reveal? Read on for who exercises the most: