Why are so many Americans choosing
to endure a preventable epidemic that's causing crippling diseases and premature death?
Each of us has the ability to spare ourselves from the effects of this epidemic
by taking responsibility for ourselves and our lifestyle choices. What's the
epidemic I speak of? Physical inactivity.
Have I overstated the problem? Are health and fitness professionals over-reacting? Decide for yourself.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that
66% of adults in the United States are overweight or obese (BMI > 25). 17% of children aged 6 to 11 years and
17.6% of adolescents aged 12 to 19 years are overweight or obese. This prevalence has tripled for adolescents in the past
So what can you do about it? Do you always need to run instead of walk? Must you quit your desk job and take up some form of physical labor as a profession? No.
We simply need to make physical activity a priority in our life and quit making excuses about why
we can't get more active. Letís address some of the most common excuses.
"I donít have time." Granted, it seems as though we donít have time for much of anything nowadays. However,
you could probably manage to find 30+ minutes to read the newspaper, watch a little
TV or chat on the phone occasionally. Itís all a matter of priorities. If you canít fit another activity for 30+ minutes into your day, then make a substitution and get rid of something that isnít a
such a high priority.
"Iím so uncoordinated, I couldnít possibly do that." Choose an activity that you feel comfortable doing or learning. One activity everyone can do is walk.
But, donít allow a little insecurity keep you from learning new activities like aerobics or tennis or swimming. Donít be afraid to learn something new
and donít expect yourself to be perfect at everything you do.
If itís an aerobics class that youíre afraid to try then start out with a tape at home where you have privacy. Once you feel comfortable with the basic aerobic style moves, go to a class. Each person in the class was new to aerobics at one point as well. Youíll be amazed how supportive everyone is.
"I did it once and it hurt." If it hurts, donít do it! Find another activity that's comfortable for your body. When being active, always listen to your body and heed its signals.
Always use proper form and body mechanics to avoid injury. Educate yourself or take a lesson/class to learn the proper way to
perform your chosen activities.
"I donít have the money to spend on a club or gym membership." Itís not necessary to join a club or a gym to be physically active. Being active doesnít require that you spend a dime. Walk, jog, dance, swim, run up and down the stairs or do one of many activities that are accessible to you
that are free of charge. Look around, be creative, youíll be amazed at what you can do right in your own home
or yard to get your heart rate elevated for 30+ minutes.
"I get bored." Then you need to get creative and interject some fun into your activity. If itís not fun and enjoyable, you
won't stick with it. Add a new twist to liven things up or participate in a variety of activities (cross-training).
"I donít like doing it alone." Find a fitness partner. If you have
a spouse or significant other, try involving them. Studies have shown that
couples who participate in regular physical activity together are more likely to
stay active throughout their lives than couples where only one person is active.
Other alternatives are to find a friend that enjoys the same activities as you;
take a class; or join your local walking, hiking or biking club. You donít have
to be active alone.
Itís time to toss aside the excuses and make a commitment
to yourself to get active for at least 30 minutes each day. Once you're active on a regular basis,
you won't believe all of the benefits that you'll feel, both mentally and physically!
Begin slow and take one step at a time if it's been awhile since you've enjoyed moderate or vigorous activity. If you have a chronic health problem be sure to check with your physician before you begin. Men over age 40 and women over age 50 should also consult their physician before beginning a vigorous exercise program.
If you're looking for some ideas,
Calculator. You'll learn how many calories your body
would burn in over 220 activities.
Getting and Staying Active