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More Americans are exercising, but the obesity rate continues to climb

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New research revealed some good news and some bad news about Americans and their health. The good news? Exercise is on the rise throughout the country. The bad news? So is obesity.

Men and women in more than two-thirds of the counties in the United States reported becoming more active over the last decade, according to data from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

Counties in Kentucky, Georgia, and Florida all saw significant increases in the number of people getting enough exercise. The percentage of men in Concho County, Texas, who got sufficient physical activity — defined as 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week — jumped from 41.4% in 2001 to 58.2% in 2009. In Morgan County, Ky., the percentage of active women increased from 25.7% to 44% over the same time period.

However, this has done little to shrink or stall the growing waistlines of many Americans. Between 2001 and 2009, the obesity rates for men and women fell in only nine counties out of the hundreds that were studied.

The obesity rate for men in Lewis County, Ky., leapt from 28.9% in 2001 to 44.7% in 2009. Meanwhile, the percentage of obese women in Berkeley County, S.C., jumped from 31.6% to 47.9%.

"Around the country, you can see huge increases in the percentage of people becoming physically active, which research tells us is certain to have health benefits," IHME Director Dr. Christopher Murray said in a press release. "If communities in the U.S. can replicate this success and tackle the ongoing obesity impact, it will see more substantial health gains."

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