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Mild Winter Weather Brings Increased Level of Frequent Exercise

More than half of Americans reported exercising three or more times a week this February, according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which provides data on healthy living and work environments to improve physical, mental, and emotional wellness.  As part of the survey, conducted daily to at least 1,000 Americans, Gallup and Healthways asked participants to report how many days during the week they exercise for at least 30 minutes.

In December 2011, 47.4 percent of Americans exercised at least three times a week for 30 minutes or more, as compared to 45.9 percent in December of 2010.  The first two months of 2012 saw a similar trend: 49.1 percent of Americans exercised frequently in January 2012, up from 47.4 in January 2011, and more than half of Americans (51.0 percent) exercised three or more times in February 2012, up from 48.3 in February 2011.

While Americans tend to exercise less during the fall and winter months and more during the spring and summer, Gallup’s Megan Cochrane claims “the mild winter weather may be a contributing factor to this increased level of frequent exercise, as January 2012 was the fourth warmest January on record in the United States.”  That said, annual trends in exercise have not changed significantly over the past year.  When asked how many times they’d exercised during a seven-day period of time, 29.7 percent of Americans in 2011 reported that they did not exercise at all versus 30.2 percent in 2010; 18.8 percent exercised one to two days a week in 2011 versus 18.4 percent in 2010; and 51.6 percent exercised three or more times a week in 2011 versus 51.4 percent in 2010.

While Gallup and Healthways found year-over-year increases during this winter’s unseasonably warm months, it remains to be seen whether these trends will continue throughout the rest of 2012.

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