Out of every five New Jersey adults, just one is exercising enough during their free time.

In a state-by-state breakdown from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, New Jersey lands in the bottom half for the percentage of adults who meet the federal government's physical activity guidelines.

Just 21 percent of those aged 18 to 64 meet the recommendation of twice-a-week muscle-strengthening activities, with either 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity or 75 minutes weekly of vigorous aerobic activity.

New Jersey is one of 17 states to post a rate below the national average of 23 percent. Pennsylvania and Connecticut score above the national average. New York's rate of adequate physical activity among adults is 18.9 percent.

"Diet and exercise are the least expensive, least invasive and most effective ways to prevent and treat disease," said Dr. Felicia Stoler, a registered dietician, nutritionist and exercise physiologist based in Holmdel. "That being said, the fact that so few people are doing it is upsetting."

Stoler noted New Jersey commuters may be stuck in traffic more than individuals in other states, perhaps cutting into their free time to work out, and not all communities are designed with accommodations for pedestrian or bike traffic.

But a bigger problem may be that people don't make exercise a priority — even when there may be a nature trail around the corner or the local gym is offering memberships for $10 per month.

"Part of the challenge is that people don't enjoy it. They think of it as a punishment," Stoler said.

If your exercise meter is at zero, and has been for a while, Stoler advises you start slow and add on.

According to the CDC's New Jersey findings, men are more likely than women to achieve the minimum workout goals. Among both men and women, employed individuals are more likely to work out.

With a rate of 32.5, Colorado posts the highest percentage of adults meeting the CDC's physical activity goals. Most of the worst-performing states can be found in the south, including last-place Mississippi (13.5).

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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

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