Massachusetts Residents Among the Most Active in the Nation, Report Says

The Commonwealth has one of the lowest rates of physical inactivity among adults.

photo by lisa decotis.

photo by lisa decotis.

Massachusetts ranks among the top 15 states with the lowest rates of physical inactivity among adults, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Released July 15, the 28-page report provides an overview of the physical activity levels of residents in each state, as well as the states’ activity-related policies and support services.

According to the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults should engage in at least 150 minutes of moderately intense aerobic activity per week to control weight and lower the risk of developing diseases like cancer and type 2 diabetes. The guidelines also suggest that adults perform strengthening activities involving all the major muscle groups at least twice a week. CDC researchers found that while 23.5 percent of Massachusetts residents do not exercise at all, 56 percent of Massachusetts residents meet the aerobic activity requirement; 32 percent meet the muscle-strengthening requirement.

In addition to the state’s above average activity levels, Boston received a special mention in the CDC report for its Bike to Market program, a community health initiative that helps keep residents active by offering free or inexpensive bike repair services at farmers’ markets throughout the city. The program was highlighted along with two others in the country—one in Michigan and one in Minnesota— for its efforts to promote positive physical activity behavior.

Though the CDC’s analysis of physical activity levels among residents in Massachusetts was fairly positive, its evaluation of the state’s activity-related policies was mixed. Policies were judged based on their ability to “create or enhance access to safe places for physical activity, enhance physical education and physical activity in schools and child care settings, [and] support street-scale and community-scale design policy.”

The Commonwealth scored well in the first and third categories, but fell short in the second. Currently, there are no state policies to regulate activity in physical education classes or recess. The report also shows that state regulations do not meet the CDC’s physical activity recommendations for preschoolers.