THURSDAY, Feb. 9 (HealthDay News) -- The number of American
adults who received advice from their doctor to engage in regular
exercise has increased steadily over the past decade, according to
new research from U.S. health officials.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers
noted that this trend could help more Americans lower their risk
for chronic illnesses, reduce their dependence on medication and
improve their quality of life.
The investigators used data from the U.S. National Health
Interview Surveys from 2000, 2005 and 2010 to examine whether or
not physicians make a point to recommend regular physical activity
to their patients.
The research revealed that between 2000 and 2010, the percentage
of adults advised to get regular exercise jumped from 22 percent to
32 percent -- a 10 percent increase.
Among those told most often to engage in some sort of physical
activity were obese patients. Exercise was also increasingly
recommended to patients with high blood pressure, heart disease,
cancer and diabetes.
Also, data from each of the three survey time points indicated
that female patients were more likely to have been urged to
exercise than male patients.
By 2010, nearly one-third of adults who had seen a doctor in the
past 12 months had been advised to begin or continue an exercise
regimen, according to information in a CDC news release.
In addition, the researchers found, the percentage of adults
aged 85 and older who were told to exercise nearly doubled from
15.3 percent to 28.9 percent over the course of 10 years.
Although more people of all races and ethnicities were advised
to get physically active, the study revealed that Hispanic adults
had the largest percentage point increase over the decade.
Despite the rising trend, the prevalence of exercise advice
remains well below 50 percent of U.S. adults and varies
significantly among different groups of people, the authors
"Physicians and other health professionals can be influential sources of health information, and exercise counseling by primary care physicians has been shown to increase patients' participation in physical activity," according to CDC researcher Patricia Barnes, of the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), and her colleague Charlotte Schoenborn. Their findings are published in the February issue of the CDC's NCHS Data Brief.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has more about
physical activity guidelines for Americans.