A new study suggests that obese women get just one hour of vigorous exercise a year, while obese men don’t do much better at fewer than four hours.
February 20, 2014
The findings startled the researchers, whose main focus was finding better ways to measure how much exercise people get.
“They’re living their lives from one chair to another,” said Edward Archer, a research fellow with the Nutrition Obesity Research Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “We didn’t realize we were that sedentary. There are some people who are vigorously active, but it’s offset by the huge number of individuals who are inactive.”
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one in three people in the United States is obese, a step above overweight. Obesity increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stoke, and some cancers.
The study, published recently in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, examined the results of a 2005-2006 government survey of adults age 20 to 74. Among other things, the survey tracked the weight, diet and sleep patterns of nearly 2,500 adults. Accelerometer devices were used to track their movements, providing insight into how much they exercised.
What kind of lives are the most inactive people living? “I think they’re living the typical life. They drive their children to school; they sit at a desk all day long. They may play some video games and then they go to sleep.” Archer said.
As shocking as this study seems, just walk through any airport terminal and you will see the reality. We are no longer the ugly Americans, we are the fat Americans.
Recently, on CBS national news, an MD spoke at length on the diminishing returns of exercising more than an hour a day. When asked which was better for your health, being a marathon runner or a couch potato. He said he could not really compare the two, but added that we were not made for running. The truth is we absolutely are designed to run. We are not designed to sit in chairs all day. The focus should be on increasing our exercise habits, not limiting them.
Regular exercise increases endorphins and enkelphins. These brain chemicals elevate mood and reduce pain. Just think about how much better you feel after that run on the beach or spinning class, even if you dreaded going beforehand.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Get off the couch and exercise. Find an activity that you enjoy, one that is engaging. I use a mix of running, biking and swimming, but tennis the sport that really engages me. If you are starting from square one, most communities offer a “Couch to 5K” class that will train you to run a 5K (3.1 miles) in 8 to 10 weeks.