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What are you doing today? exercising

Only five percent of Americans do anything vigorous like biking or aerobics on a given day and preparing meals is the most common moderate physical activity, according to new research.
/ Source: Reuters

Only five percent of Americans do anything vigorous like running, biking or aerobics on a given day and preparing meals is the most common moderate physical activity, according to new research.

In a study that looked at the intensity of what Americans do daily, researchers found that exercise was not high on the list.

Americans, by far, favored sedentary tasks such as making phone calls and grabbing a snack over activities that require them to actually get up and move.

"The greatest prevalence for reported moderate activities was food and drink preparation for both men and women," Catrine Tudor-Locke and her team said in a report in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

"Overall only 5.07 percent report any vigorous intense activity."

The findings, by researchers at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La., are based on U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on the habits of nearly 80,000 people between 2003 and 2008.

Poll: Did you exercise today?

The activities are divided into sedentary, light, moderate and vigorous.

Of the moderately intense tasks, the most common at 25.7 percent was preparing meals, which was below the 80 percent of people who cited watching TV or going to the movies, or the 28 percent of people who read.

But the study shows that Americans are five times more likely to spend time in the kitchen than doing something physically demanding such as playing a sport or hiking, confirming the stereotype of Americans as couch potatoes.

Although the study does not reveal whether Americans are getting more or less exercise than before, Tudor-Locke said it will help scientists understand how Americans can change their habits.

"From a science point of view, we can make sure we have an understanding of the energy expended or just the benefits of these activities," she said in an interview.

Other common moderate activities included gardening, driving and cleaning the house. The least frequently reported vigorous endeavors were winter sports, soccer and hiking.