Monday, November 26, 2012

Apparently, Americans Don't Move Much Anymore

Posted By on Mon, Nov 26, 2012 at 4:47 PM

Here's something terrifying to consider in the wake of Thanksgiving weekend: Apparently 40 percent of Americans never exercise.

From the New York Times:

About 40 percent of Americans report that they never exercise, a figure that has remained steady for decades. They will not even do the easy stuff. In studies of moderate exercise to help prevent diabetes, for example, investigators had to go to great lengths just to keep subjects in a walking program.

Now, with more recent studies using accelerometers that measure actual movement rather than relying on self-reports, the data are even more dismal. Only 3.5 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 59 do the minimum amount of physical activity recommended by the Department of Health and Human Services: 150 minutes a week of moderate activity. Among those over age 60, the percentage is even lower: 2.5 percent. “It is stunning,” said Panteleimon Ekkekakis, an exercise researcher at Iowa State University.

The story goes on to consider research from Ekkekakis and the University of Georgia's Rod Dishman in which it is noticed that people find the most memorable parts of a workout to be the peak of intensity and the end of the workout, and that people are more likely to maintain regimens that end with positive rewards (a calming cool-down period, for instance), but I can't stop staring at the 3.5 percent of people who get the minimum amount of physical activity.

I'm no specimen of great health myself, but taking this number in conjunction with studies that project that the current generation of children is to be the first with shorter lifespans than their parents freaks me the hell out, even though I don't have kids (that I'm aware of). It's almost enough for me to buy one of those sports accelerometers just to shame myself see how much I'm actually moving around.

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