Judi Joy works out because, otherwise, her body would revolt against her.
The 62-year-old Oklahoma City resident has undergone spinal fusion surgeries recently, and per doctor’s orders, she makes it a point to regularly exercise.
“You have to, or it will get worse — that’s why I have to work out,” Joy said. “My goal at my age now is just to keep healthy and live a longer, active life.”
Joy is among an active group of Oklahomans the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says gets enough exercise.
Thursday, the CDC released a report that noted only 16 percent of Oklahomans perform enough aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercises to meet federal guidelines.
Those federal guidelines defined “enough” activity based on the survey respondents’ age and gender. For example, respondents were classified as meeting both the aerobic and muscle-strengthening guidelines if they met the aerobic activity guideline of 150 minutes or more per week of moderate intensity aerobic activity.
Since losing weight, Edmond resident Josh Evans has taken a moment at the gym to lift the amount of weight he lost.
“You wonder how you lugged it around all the time,” Evans said.
About five years ago, Evans went from 208 to 170, thanks to a competition at work. He now regularly exercises, incorporating strength training and cardio.
His motivation lies, in part, in that he wants to be around to help raise his 3-year-old twin children.
“I try to just mix upper-body routines, do a balanced workout, (with) lower body, and get some fun things in like basketball sometimes,” he said.
About 24 percent of Oklahomans meet the federal government’s guidelines for incorporating enough strength training into their workouts. This compares to a national average of about 30 percent, according to the CDC.
For a while, Jennifer Yates, of Stillwater, was more focused on strength training.
“I’ve only, probably in the last year, gotten into more cardio and aerobic type workouts, and it makes a huge difference on body fat loss and increasing the amount of muscle mass that you have versus fat mass,” Yates said. “It makes a difference over just strength training.”
Thursday, her face was red after a good ride on a stationary bike at the gym. The 36-year-old mother said she understands the importance of being a good role model for her daughters Caitlyn, 12, and Cassidy, 13.
“So that they can learn the importance of staying fit and healthy and they have the motivation to do it,” she said.
More work needed
John Friedl’s job is to help reduce the obesity rate while increasing physical activity among Oklahomans.
Friedl, physical activity and nutrition manager at the state Health Department, said it was encouraging to see in the CDC report that 45 percent of Oklahoma adults meet the federal guidelines for aerobic activity.
“There’s still work that needs to be done to get people to where we want, to inform them of the benefits of what they need to do and why these recommendations are set and how they can go about doing that,” Friedl said. “Overall, we’ve got an environment in Oklahoma that does not promote physical activity.”
Oklahoma for many years has ranked among the worst states for health outcomes.
Oklahoma ranks No. 43 among the rest of the nation in overall health outcomes. Residents have some of the highest rates of heart disease, diabetes and obesity in the nation.
One CDC findings was that people who have college degrees were more likely to meet the federal exercise guidelines than people who don’t have a high school diploma.
Friedl said educational level is often a great predictor for health outcomes, such as health behaviors or heart disease.
Often, people with lower education levels must work longer hours and farther from home. Physical activity becomes an optional thing rather than an important part of a person’s day.
“If you’re worried about getting home to take care of your kids, if you’re working 14-hour shifts to make minimum wage, your first priority isn’t necessarily being physically active,” Friedl said. “It’s surviving.”