Fitness debt*, or fitness deficit, can be defined as the difference between how much exercise you should be doing (according to CDC recommended guidelines of 150 minutes per week), and the amount of exercise you actually do on a regular basis. If you’re exercising your body for fewer hours than it needs to function optimally, you have a fitness debt, which can be measured as a percentage. Over time, a fitness deficit can add up and negatively impact one’s health – much like how a poor credit score can affect finances. So, after getting used to sitting at home most days and perhaps putting our fitness on the backburner over the course of the pandemic, how much exercise would we owe ourselves if we wanted to pay it back? 

BarBend.com the world’s leading strength training resource and news outlet, surveyed 4,136 people (18+) to figure out what the fitness debt is across the country, and these results were further analyzed by state. The survey uncovered that overall, Marylanders have an average fitness debt of 26.6 hours per year (-20%), as compared to the CDC recommended amount of 130 hours per year (which is 150 minutes per week). This compares to a national average of 14.9 hours fitness debt.

When these figures were broken down across the states, it was discovered that the two Dakotas were actually in an overall fitness credit to themselves! South Dakota had a fitness credit of 7.3%, working out for 7.3 hours more per year than the CDC recommended amount of 130 hours. North Dakota also had a fitness credit, but of 3.7%; as people here worked out for 3.7 hours more per year than the recommended guidelines. Comparatively, the state that had the overall highest fitness deficit was Wyoming at 35.6 hours (-35.6%). 

View the following infographic illustrating how much fitness debt each state is in:

Created by BarBend  • View larger version

Many of us are finding ourselves sitting down more throughout the day, especially since starting to work from home, or using the office/home hybrid system. It may sound innocuous to think about the number of hours per day you are sitting down, but sitting has even been referred to as the ‘new smoking’ based on the number of health issues it can trigger. Research shows that those who spend extended periods of time sitting down have higher rates of certain cancers, as well as heart problems, as compared to those who don’t. It can also lead to poor circulation and weight gain, both of which are risk factors for heart disease. 

‘For some of us, 150 minutes sounds like a lot of time to allocate towards exercising, but when you break it down into more manageable chunks, it becomes far easier to meet your fitness goals for the week,’ says Max Whiteside for Barbend. ‘This could be half an hour per day, 5 days of the week, or you could even split up your workout into two parts – one in the morning and one in the afternoon. It’s not about becoming a triathlete overnight, but it’s important to make sure that your body is getting the movement that it needs in order to give you maximum output – both physically and mentally!’ 

*A new term coined by Barbend, defined as: the difference between the amount of exercise an individual should be doing (according to CDC recommended guidelines: 150 minutes per week), and how much exercise they actually do on a weekly basis.


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