Amid the drumbeat of news about the U.S. obesity epidemic, here’s a surprising bright spot: Americans exercised more than ever in 2012. Gallup-Healthways research found that 54.7 percent of adults exercised 30 minutes or more at least three days a week, based on a poll of 1,000 Americans. The percentage inched up from 53.3 percent in 2011 and from the previous high of 54.2 percent in 2008.
The uptick in exercise coincides with increased temperatures in 2012, the researchers noted, although it isn’t clear whether there’s a direct correlation. Americans' exercise habits tend to be seasonal, and most people typically work out more during the spring and summer months when the temperatures are up and less in the fall and winter months. Last year was the hottest on record for the contiguous United States, with an average temperature of 55.3 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. So is it a coincidence that Americans are more likely to hit the gym or running path if there are blue skies, sunshine and, of course, warm temperatures? Those results aren't in yet, but the nation is improving its health habits, and that is definitely one move in the right direction.