(ATLANTA) -- Exercise is key to good health and an essential tool in the fight against obesity, but new numbers suggest that many Americans don't get any physical activity at all.
In a checkup of the nation's health, the CDC found that fewer than two in 10 Americans get the recommended levels of exercise, and more than a quarter of U.S. adults do not devote any time to physical activity. The findings were published Tuesday in the agency's annual report on health statistics.
Regionally, the problems are even more pronounced. Inactivity runs rampant across the U.S. South and Appalachia, where nearly 30 percent of people reported that they do not get any physical exercise -- not even light activities such as golfing or gardening.
"That's probably even an underestimate of the real problem," said Dr. Antronette Yancey, a professor at UCLA who serves on a board that supports first lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" campaign. Yancey said that in self-reported data, participants often vastly overstate their actual activity.
In Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Tennessee, inactivity rates are at least 29.2 percent in more than 70 percent of counties. These states also have some of the highest levels of health problems, such as diabetes and obesity.
Federal guidelines call for 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every week, including two days of full-body strengthening.
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