For some of us, exercise = work. Walking is fantastic and does a whole lot of good for you, but running, yoga, fitness classes, weight training requires time and effort. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it, all the time, right? Right.
Well, shockingly a recent study showed that 1 in 10 people had not even gone for a 5-minute walk in the last month, let alone a recommended 60-minute workout session. Not even 5-minutes!
That’s a lot of sitting on our ass!
It didn’t just stop there; a further 90% admitted they hadn’t even been to the gym. Now, I know that you don’t have to visit a gym to get physically active or increase your level of activity but it does seem that no matter how many options are out there encouraging you to move more, we continue to see these scary statistics:
- Only one in three children are physically active every day.
- Less than 5% of adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day; only one in three adults receive the recommended amount of physical activity each week.
- More than 80% of adults do not meet the guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities, and more than 80% of adolescents do not do enough aerobic physical activity to meet the guidelines for youth.
- In 2013, research found adults in the following states to be most likely to report exercising 3 or more days a week for at least 30 minutes: Vermont (65.3%), Hawaii (62.2%), Montana (60.1%), Alaska (60.1%). The least likely were Delaware (46.5%), West Virginia (47.1%) and Alabama (47.5%). The national average for regular exercise is 51.6%.
- Children now spend more than seven and a half hours a day in front of a screen (e.g., TV, videogames, computer).
- Only about one in five homes have parks within a half-mile, and about the same number have a fitness or recreation center within that distance.
- Only 6 states (Illinois, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New York and Vermont) require physical education in every grade, K-12.
- 28.0% of Americans, or 80.2 million people, aged six and older are physically inactive.
- Nearly one-third of high school students play video or computer games for 3 or more hours on an average school day
The Excuses For Not Exercising
So my question is, why are we not exercising, as a nation? We are we all guilty of coming up with an excuse at one time or another – I don’t have time, I’m too tired, the kids, it’s boring, I can’t afford it, I’m not getting any results, and so on, yet despite being continually told through research that next to smoking, sedentary behavior is one of the most dangerous things leading to obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, we are not doing the recommended exercise.
One fitness expert states, we need to understand how our ‘reliance on technology is impacting our lives and making us lazier’.
‘Why do we dislike exercise so much and why do we place so little value on it?’
Is this saying we place more meaning on social media (which is not really ‘social’) than we do our own health? The stats are certainly indicating this is the case. While the change won’t be easy or fast, a suggested strategy on improving the stats is education or ‘re-education’. The evidence is showing that if you don’t exercise while you are a child you are less likely to take it up in your adult life!
Which begs us, as parents to get our kids, nephews and nieces, off the electronics and into the backyard.
But There’s Good News…
According to a recent American Health and Fitness Expo survey:
- A whooping 56% of those surveyed, exercised because they felt it increased their sex drive! Hello!
- Ironically, 31% increase their exercise around Christmas and Easter so they don’t feel guilty about those few extra meals.
Not surprisingly though, 93% of the respondents exercised because it made them feel happy.
So, not all is lost, however, the alarming number of people who don’t feel the need to exercise due to reasons unknown is still shocking and must be catered to.
Why You Should Exercise
Here are some excuses vs. solutions for everyone contemplating their next sweat session:
- “I don’t have time” – Break your daily activity into 3, 10min blocks and put a workout on your calendar at lunch time as a ‘private appointment’.
- “I’m too tired” – Adjust your intensity; forget the Crossfit workout and go for a power walk or yoga class. If you’re exercising regularly, get plenty of sleep.
- “I can’t afford it” – Download free apps on your phone, borrow a workout DVD from the library, or go for a jog/walk outside.
- “I’m too uncomfortable” – Go to the gym at off-peak times (if you are a member) or look up an introductory/beginners class. If you’re still self-conscious, there are women-only gyms in some cities.
- “Can’t stay committed/bored” – Change it up, get social, and join a local running club.
- “I never see the results” – It takes about 12-weeks of routine to notice any changes, internalize and think about the good it’s doing on the inside. Surely you don’t expect changes in a week that has taken you a lifetime to build?