Study finds New Jersey’s adults aren’t getting enough exercise

BY Lauren Wanko, Correspondent |

While some people are still sleeping in, basking in the lazy days of summer, others are up and moving in a workout class on the water.

“I just don’t feel right unless I start the day with some sort of movement and getting your energy up,” said Montclair resident Theresa Kemp.

Kemp is vacationing along the Jersey Shore and decided to enroll in The Endless SUP Company’s stand-up paddle board class with registered dietitian/nutritionist Mandy Enright. She focuses on getting enough exercise each week, unlike the majority of Americans and New Jerseyans.

A CDC National Center for Health Statistics Report found nationally 22.9 percent of U.S. adults, aged 18-64, met the guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities, which includes at least 150 minutes per week of moderate physical activity, or 75 minutes per week of vigorous physical activity, along with muscle-strengthening activities two or more days per week. In New Jersey, only 21 percent of residents met those guidelines. The report found men in the Garden State worked out more than women.

“I think overall it’s very surprising that Americans are not meeting their exercise needs, especially because it is something that is so low-cost that is part of your daily lifestyle and overall well being,” said Enright.

She thinks some people avoid exercise because they want to avoid the gym membership fee. If that’s the case, she encourages clients to go for walk or run around town, or follow workout routines on the internet. As to her thoughts on why the Garden State ranks below the national average?

“We’re a big state of commuters. We go to New York, we drive all over the state, some of us go to Philadelphia, and that is a lot of time in car. And when we’re sitting that is time we’re not moving,” Enright said.

That was once part of Enright’s life. The former advertising executive commuted to New York City for nearly 10 years and became fed up with her lack of movement so she switched careers and now focuses largely on corporate wellness work.

“Companies overall need to create much more of a wellness environment and communities. I think we’re in this culture where we work really hard and we feel badly or guilty if we’re taking anytime for ourselves,” Enright said. “I like to tell my folks if you’re not taking time for yourself and not you’re healthy you are not going to be good to anybody overall.”

The dietician’s tips, aside from taking care of yourself?

“Make some of what I call ‘creative movement’ into your day, so get up and move. Don’t keep a trash can at your desk, put the trash can away so you have to get up and go to it. Use your times when you have to go to the restroom to maybe do a couple of laps around your office or go up and down the stairs a few times to just get a little bit of movement in. And then I always recommend to try and keep some snacks on hand so that way you’re not starving or not hitting up the vending machine,” she said.

And find a form of exercise that doesn’t feel like a painful task. Spring Lake resident Lisa Ann Miller says she stopped running because she just wasn’t enjoying it.

“Doing paddle boarding and yoga out on the water, it is so freeing and fun and beautiful that it doesn’t feel like exercise at all,” said Miller.

Enright’s husband, Joseph, even joins in on the class when he can.

“I feel good when I do it or after I’m done,” he said. “If you feel good you look good. You look good, you feel good, so it just keeps going.”