CDC study shows physical inactivity high among La. adults; LSU AgCenter program addressing problem

(01/16/20) Baton Rouge, La. — Maps released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that Louisiana is one of seven states with the highest prevalence of physical inactivity among adults.

The findings indicate that more than 15% of adults in every state are inactive. That number jumps to 30% or more in Louisiana.

The LSU AgCenter is working to address physical inactivity in the state through the Healthy Communities initiative. Healthy Communities is a community-led process in which the AgCenter assists community partners make changes that promote health and help make the healthy choice the easy choice for community members.

Denise Holston, an AgCenter nutrition specialist and registered dietitian, is leading the program across the state to address nutrition and physical activity in Louisiana.

“We might, for example, help a community work on making existing park facilities more attractive, help make a downtown more walkable or create physical activity through painted play spaces,” she said. “We know that every community is different, so the type of work that we do is decided by local community members.”

Small adjustments such as adding crosswalks on streets or better lighting on walking paths help to improve access to physical activity opportunities.

With an obesity rate of 35%, and 16 of 64 parishes with obesity rates over 40%, Louisiana residents disproportionally suffer from high rates of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke. The Healthy Communities project is working to combat obesity by approaching health holistically.

Holston offered tips to help adults get started with more physical activity:

  • Make an appointment with your doctor to get medical clearance to participate in physical activity.
  • Make notes of what types of activities you enjoy. Do you prefer to be physically active in groups? Do you prefer to be physically active throughout the day or in the morning or at night?
  • Start slowly and set small goals that are SMART — specific, manageable, attainable, relevant and time-specific.
  • Prioritize. Schedule activity on your calendar just as you would an appointment for your child or a doctor’s appointment.
  • Still no time to work out? Try incorporating small bouts of physical activity into your day and reducing sedentary activities such as watching TV.
  • Do things you enjoy. If you do things you enjoy with people you like, it will seem less like a chore, and you will be more likely to stick with it over time.

The CDC study combined four years of data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

The South had the highest rates of physical inactivity. Besides Louisiana, states with inactivity rates 30% or higher included Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

In the release of these findings, the CDC reported that inactivity contributes to one in 10 premature deaths in the U.S. and is associated with $117 billion in annual health care costs.

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A map provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the prevalence of self-reported physical inactivity among U.S. adults by state and territory. In studies conducted by the CDC, 30% or more of adults in Louisiana reported that they did not participate in any physical activities or exercises during the previous month.

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In this archived LSU AgCenter photo, members of the LSU AgCenter-led Healthy Communities coalition are escorted by a St. Helena Parish sheriff’s deputy on July 11, 2016, as they walk along Louisiana Highway 10 in Greensburg during a tour to identify ways to improve nutrition and exercise opportunities in the town. Photo by Olivia McClure/LSU AgCenter

1/17/2020 8:50:11 PM
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