Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Surprise! Most Americans are out of shape

You’re not really surprised—are you?  Neither was I when I read this headline in the Wall Street Journal: We All Need to Shape Up Fast. Despite the fact that I and most of my friends are reasonably fit and active, I realize that oh-so many folks are not.

The article is light-hearted in tone but contains some pretty dismal facts:

  • More than a quarter of the U.S. population—28%—did not participate in a single physical activity last year as defined by the [Physical Activity] council.
  • The physical activity did not have to be something super-intense like mixed martial arts, or quarterbacking the New York Jets. Stretching was considered an activity.
  • The number of Americans who could be described as “totally sedentary” has risen to its highest level since 2007.

I had to laugh when I read that 
“…this surge in sedentary behavior has occurred as sales of stylish fitness clothing—the ‘athleisure’ category…have continued to rise…[and]there are indications that a lot of this ‘athleisure’ clothing is being purchased for pure leisure—and not, you know, the ath.”
The author also notes the irony in the overwhelming number of fitness devices available that will track your steps, your heart rate, and your calories burned at the same time that technology is putting everything at our fingertips so we can live and thrive without “stepping outside to get something.”

In contrast to this news about inactivity, the topic of one of my recent blogs was the Get Active! program my company runs annually to inspire us to beyou guessed itmore active.  Long before that program started, my husband and I were already cycling most weekends, and I was working out at the gym and walking with friends. Probably because all my adult life, I’ve obsessed about my weight and watched my eating (well, I watch it but don’t always curb it), I’ve always included some physical activity in my life.  In the 80’s and 90’s, it was running.  I added cycling in the 90’s and soon gave up running, but eventually added yoga, and most recently a personal trainer.   

These days, working out is not as much about my weight as it is about staying fit.  I’ve significantly increased my activity level over the past few weeks, and I’m pretty pleased because I seem to have a bit more energy and an  easier time cycling hills.  It’s doubtful I‘m going to continue working out 60-90 minutes every day as I’ve done during our company challenge, but you never know. Before it began, I thought four-five days a week of 30-45 minutes of activity was gracious plenty, but the competition upped my game.

The good news?  Even if I choose to exercise less, I am nowhere near sedentary. And hey, additional research reveals that pastimes like billiards, bowling, and even darts count as activity according to the survey.  Darts anyone? 
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