Americans spend far more time driving cars and watching television than they do exercising, researchers said last week in a study that helps shed light on the country's obesity epidemic. Americans also spend more time in the office than people in other countries, according to the report from the University of California, Berkeley.
The report came the same week that federal government researchers said deaths caused by poor eating habits and a lack of exercise were fast catching up to smoking as a leading cause of death. In 2000, 400,000 Americans died from poor eating habits and laziness, compared with 435,000 who died from smoking-related illness.
The paper shows that, as a population, leisure-time physical activities are at the bottom of the priority list. The researchers looked at surveys of 7,515 adults questioned from 1992 to 1994 for the National Human Activity Pattern Survey. They reported on everything they did and how long they did it during the prior 24 hours. The research team analyzed the information and assigned energy output for each activity.
On average, those surveyed spent 170 minutes a day watching TV and movies - nine times the minutes spent on all leisure exercise. The average time spent driving was 101 minutes a day.
The team noted that Americans might not have as much free time for exercise as citizens of other countries. They cited U.S. Labor Department statistics that showed workers in the United States clocked in 1,821 hours in 2001, while those in Germany logged 1,467 hours.
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