Less than half of women exercise enough, says CDC
By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
Only 49.3% of women over age 18 meet the federal physical activity guidelines for 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity during leisure per week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Health Interview Survey of 2018. The CDC figures do not include activity while working.
Why are so few meeting the guidelines?
Joe Delgado, co-owner and personal trainer with Max Effort Training in Henrietta, said that lack of childcare represents one important reason.
“More facilities are offering childcare because that is one of the big barriers,” he said. “It just gets tough. We have so much demand on our lives and we don’t take care of ourselves.”
When life gets too busy, it’s easy to rationalize inactivity and think tasks such as cutting the lawn or doing the laundry in the basement suffices, “but the heart rate has to be elevated for this to count,” Delgado said.
Many women perform the lion’s share of housework while still taking care of the children and working full time. Some also care for elderly parents or disabled family members. That doesn’t leave much time for workouts.
“Being so busy, women don’t take time for themselves,” said Brittany Fendikevich, personal trainer with Elite Fitness in Rochester.
She also believes that an abundance of contradictory health information can cause confusion and result in inactivity.
Simone Bailey-Brown, a cardiologist at Rochester Regional Health’s Sands-Constellation Heart Institute, thinks that a lack of knowledge about the guidelines and overestimating how physical they are contribute to the problem of sedentary lifestyle.
“Many consider the walking that they do during the normal course of their daily activity as adequate exercise,” Baily-Brown said. “While being active throughout the day is important it does not take the place of dedicated time for exercise.”
It may not be hours at a gym, but women can get more movement in their week. Delgado said that fitness must become part of the routine.
“It’s a lifestyle change,” Delgado said. “It has to be an appointment. That’s why clients make an appointment with me each week. They need to do it. It has to be a priority.”
He said that it’s easier to get the workout done first thing in the morning since once his women clients arrive home, they tend want to take care of what their family needs.
Fendikevich said that adding a bit of fitness through the day can help improve fitness, like 10 to 20 squats here and there, a walk during the lunch break or sets of jumping jacks.
“Even if it’s 10 minutes consistently, it’s better than nothing,” she said.
Choosing an activity that’s enjoyable “will help you find time in the day to do it,” Fendikevich said. “If you hate it, you’ll make excuses around it.”
Cardiologist Bailey-Brown added that engaging in an activity the children can join in may make it easier for women to get fit, whether it’s an evening family walk or at a gym that welcomes children.
“It certainly requires creativity,” she said. “Perhaps go for a walk during lunch time at work, exercise early in the morning before children are awake or in the evening after children are gone to bed.”