According to the report, doctors and other health professionals most frequently prescribed exercise to their overweight and obese patients. Nearly half of obese patients received such advice in 2010, compared to less than a quarter of healthy-weight adults.
Although Hispanic patients showed the largest increase in exercise recommendations, increases were seen across all races and ethnic groups, the report states.
Almost 30% of adults aged 85 and older received exercise advice in 2010, a nearly two-fold increase over the 10 years covered by the report. However, the largest number of adults receiving prescriptions for physical activity were those aged 45 to 74. Adults younger than 25 received the fewest.
The same upward trend can be seen among patients with chronic diseases, particularly those with type 2 diabetes, half of whom received exercise counseling from their doctors. In 2010, a significantly greater number of patients with heart disease and stroke risk, high blood pressure, and cancer received exercise advice compared to 2000.
Despite the rise in the number of patients being advised to get and stay active, the authors of the report acknowledge that there is a long way to go before such advice reaches a sufficient number of people.
“The prevalence of receiving this advice remains well below one-half of U.S. adults and varies substantially across population subgroups,” the authors write.