TIME Exercise/Fitness

Almost a Third of Older Adults Don’t Move Enough

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Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

28% of people over 50 are too sedentary, a new study finds

Americans—older ones in particular—get far from enough exercise. Despite the remarkable health benefits of exercise, which TIME explored in a recent cover story, more than half of baby boomers don’t do any at all.

But Americans don’t just avoid sweaty bouts of physical exertion. Many avoid moving altogether, suggests a new study published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. According to the analysis of 2014 surveillance data, 28% of Americans ages 50 and over are inactive—meaning that 31 million adults are moving no more than necessary to perform the most basic functions of daily life.

Other findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study are that geographically, people in the South were the least active—39% of adults in Arkansas were inactive, more than in any other state—followed by the Midwest. People in the West were the least inactive.

Women are slightly less active than men, and adults with at least one chronic disease were more likely to be inactive than those without such a condition. Federal, state and local governments have roles to play in increasing physical activity of all Americans, the CDC adds, especially by making communities more walkable, supporting healthy lifestyle programs and fostering a culture friendlier to physical activity.

The good news is that a little bit of movement goes a long way toward improving human health. Even walking more has been shown to improve heart health and memory.

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