There is research out there that shows various indicators of the population and their propensity toward being overweight. It appears that cars make us fatter. In fact when gas is cheap we tend to take them more places and walk less. Research shows that people living in suburbs are fatter because they have to drive more and a walk to the corner shops is not an option, or at least not an attractive one. Living in the Southeastern quadrent of the continental US apparently makes people fat, I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because fried food is a staple in the diet. And all those jokes about people in Colorado being “granolas” and eating wood flavored health food: well those jokes have Coloradoans laughing right past the emergency room. What about Wisconsin? We were always about the middle for the US. In 1995 we jumped up and have been steadily gaining fat ever since. Less beer and less cheese-curds might help, could be worse I guess. We could be in Mississippi. Click this link to see Wisconsin (and the Country) getting fatter over time, but see this map for 2008 stats.
I travel a lot, and have been through many other countries and I find it somewhat insulting that everyone in the world thinks we are the ship people from Wall-E (all overweight blobs incapable of moving or even lifting a limb). But then I look at us, as a country, and I am sad to say that they are almost right. We value our lounge time and feel that we are entitled to a little “sit on the couch” time as a reward. In fact we Americans work so hard that we often don’t have any energy to do something athletic or even something active. When my son asked me the other day to go outside and throw the frisbee for 10 minutes before I left for work; I responded “No, Dad needs a little rest before work.” Then it hit me. It hit me like an errant frisbee. 10 minutes for some son time? For some active time? How sad. I got up and we played.
Sadly enough many of us are not given to changing our minds once butt meets cushion. Getting sedentary only leads to being more sedentary and the cycle is hard to break. I know this, and the one thing that breaks the cycle for me; is my kids. Knowing that they are not getting Dad-time kills me. It got me off the couch. But what will do it for others? A sick friend? A sick you? A mirror? We need to give our children a better chance at being healthy, they deserve it. In fact, this generation of children coming up is the first generation of Americans EVER that will have a life expectancy shorter than their parents. We created that situation now what are we doing to fix it? Will our children’s children be the people on Wall-E’s ship?
We need to show kids that being active is good and fun. We need to show them that it makes us feel better and makes them feel better too. We need to give them opportunities to be active. I could take this opportunity to sell the Gymfinity Motion Evolution classes for kids fitness and talk about the benefits of activity on brain development, and building a foundation for successful sports participation by being in a Gymfinity program but it’s more simple than that. It’s a trip to the park, a walk after dinner, a swim at a hotel in the middle of winter just for fun. It can be simple. I remember seeing friends that would go out and kick a ball around the yard between coming home from work and sitting down to dinner. I personally remember taking a walk after thanksgiving dinner every year as a tradition. So simple, but how many of us walked after the feed this year?
Specialists encourage 30 minutes a day, but I am sad to say that 30 minutes seems daunting to most people nowadays. So don’t look at it like “30 minutes, who’s got 30 minutes” and instead look at it like “hey I have 10 minutes before work to play or walk“. Just like being sedentary leads to only being more sedentary, being active will lead to being more active and soon you will find 30 minutes easily. Get up from your desk now (finish reading this first, but seriously get up and walk around) get some air. You will feel better, I promise. Now the next time you do it, make sure your kids see you, heck take them with you.