County lags in physical activity

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Adults in Trimble County get less exercise in their leisure time than adults nationwide or statewide, putting them at greater risk for obesity and related problems such as diabetes.

Surveys done by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 2006 through 2008 estimate that 34 percent of Trimble County adults said they had gotten no exercise in the previous month, other that what they may have gotten while at work.

Statewide, 30 percent of Kentucky adults said they got no leisure-time exercise in the previous month. Nationwide, the figure was 25.4 percent, and only one Kentucky county had a lower rate: Fayette, at 25.3 percent. Other major metropolitan areas in the state had lower rates than the statewide rate, so the problem is mainly rural.

Research shows a lack of physical activity often leads to obesity and diabetes, which the survey shows are also major problems in the vast majority of the state. Obesity and diabetes are not only risk factors for several serious health conditions, including cancer, heart disease and stroke, but they are also costly. The average annual medical costs for an obese person are $1,429 more than for someone who weighs a normal amount, CDC numbers show.

The results are based on the CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, which is
an ongoing telephone survey. People were listed as physically inactive if they answered “no” to this question: “During the past month, other than your regular job, did you participate in any physical activities or exercises such as running, calisthenics, golf, gardening or walking for exercise?” Three years of data are used to compute each year’s results.

County figures are subject to error margins depending on the size of a county and its sample in the survey. Error margins are usually expressed in terms of a 95 percent confidence level, meaning that in 19 of 20 cases if the entire population were surveyed, the result would be within the range created by the error margin. In Trimble County, the range of adults with no physical activity is 25 to 47 percent.

Information for this story was provided by Kentucky Health News, a service of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, based in the School of Journalism and Telecommunications at the University of Kentucky and funded by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.