Question of the Week

September 8, 2003


School is back. Schedules are getting busier. Who has time to exercise?

Exercise is:
"Activity that requires physical or mental exertion, especially when
performed to develop or maintain fitness..."

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, believing earlier studies failed to accurately measure Americans' fitness because they focused on intense exercise, has lumped everyday activities such as housework and gardening with jogging and lifting weights. But even with playing withchildren and raking the lawn on the list of moderate-intensity activities, the 2001 phone survey released Thursday showed that 55 percent of adults still didn't get the recommended minimum: 30 minutes a day, at least four days a week...."

This is a story that periodically makes the headlines: Americans are not getting enough exercise. Americans are not active enough.

We have heard the reports. We know the consequences of inactivity (obesity, diabetes, heart problems, etc...), but who has time to exercise? I know it's important. I know it is something I need to do; I know it's good for my health, but I'm too busy to make it to the gym or go for a three mile run in the morning. On the other hand, it's not like I'm sitting still all day. I'm busy: always on the go. Doesn't that count for something?

"There is good news for all Americans. Scientific evidence shows that physical activity done at a moderate-intensity level can produce health benefits (USDHHS, 1996). If people have been sedentary, they can improve their health and well-being with regular, moderate levels of activity each day."

"Even moderate types of exercise provide health benefits. For that reason, a state-based survey, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the first time includes a broader definition of physical activity. The survey provides a more comprehensive picture of Americans‚ daily lifestyles and includes physical activity measures such as gardening, vacuuming, and brisk walking to do errands, in addition to more traditional forms of exercise....'It is important for all of us to remember that sedentary lifestyles increase our risk of obesity, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. The burden of these diseases can be reduced with a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity five or more days a week,' said CDC Director Dr. Julie L. Gerberding."

All these recommendations are for adults. We have heard enough reports by now to know that kids and teens need to be active as well.

"There are currently two widely accepted sets of developmentally appropriate recommendations´┐Żone for adolescents, the other for elementary school-aged children. They address how much and what kinds of physical activity young people need. The International Consensus Conference on Physical Activity Guidelines for Adolescents (Sallis et al., 1994) issued the following recommendations:
* All adolescents should be physically active daily, or nearly every day, as part of play, games, sports, work, transportation, recreation, physical education, or planned exercise, in the context of family, school, and community activities.
* Adolescents should engage in three or more sessions per week of activities that last 20 minutes or more at a time and that require moderate to vigorous levels of exertion."

But who has time? Kids and teens are busy, just as adults are: Busy schedules and busy lives. Multi-tasking is already the norm. What else can be done? You don't have time to join the track team, or take up swimming. You barely have time to finish your homework (and the school year has only just begun!).

"...if you don't play team sports, don't worry; there are plenty of ways to get aerobic exercise on your own or with a few friends.  Some awesome ways to get aerobically fit include biking, running, aerobics, swimming, dancing, in-line skating, cross-country skiing, hiking, and walking quickly. In fact, types of exercise that you can do on your own are easier to continue for years to come, so you can stay fit as you get older."

While it may seem like it takes a lot of time to go out of your way to exercise, think of little things you like to do anyway, and try to add bits of exercise into your daily routine. While it may not count for everything, even fidgeting helps....

Thursday, January 7, 1999:
"New research from the Mayo Clinic, Minnesota, in which volunteers were overfed for two months, showed that the people who piled on the pounds did a lot less fidgeting than those whose weight stayed stable....The key factor, said Dr James Levine, the lead author of the study published in Science, was non-exercise activity thermogenesis (Neat) or fidgeting. "Those people who had the greatest increase in Neat gained the least fat, and vice versa."

Questions of the Week:
What are some "traditional" forms of exercise that you enjoy? What is something that you are already doing "that requires physical or mental exertion," but might not be considered "exercise" to others? What are some creative ways that you can add light or moderate exercise into your daily routine?

Please email me with any ideas or suggestions.
Note: Due to increasing amounts of SPAM sent to this account, please include "QOW" in the subject line when sending me email.

I look forward to reading what you have to say.

Health Community Coordinator
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum

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