Sometimes, for some of us, exercise = work. Walking is fantastic and does a whole heap 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 survey released in The Huffington Post UK showed that 1 in 10 people had not even gone for a 5-minute walk in the last month, leave aside a proper 60-minute workout session. Not even 5-minutes! That’s a lot of sitting on our butts or lying down?
It didn’t just stop there, a further 90% admitted they hadn’t 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:
- Globally, 1 in 3 adults are not active enough (WHO)
- The National average of Americans that exercise regularly is less than 50% (49.6) (WebMD) while nearer 80% do not get the recommended amounts of exercise each week.
Talking more locally, the Australian Health Survey 2011-2012 indicated that:
- Only one third of children and 1 in 10 young people undertook the recommended 60-minutes of physical activity everyday.
- 60% of Australian adults did less than the recommended 30-minutes of moderate physical activity per day.
- The adults who participated in the pedometer study, recorded an average of 7,400 steps per day. Less than one in five adults (19%) recorded 10,000 steps per day on average.
The Excuses For Not Exercising
So my question is, why are we not exercising, as a nation? As citizens of the world? We are 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 behaviour is one of the most dangerous things leading to obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, we have whole countries that are not doing the recommended exercise.
The Global recommendations on physical activity for health (which UK, AUS and US base their guidelines) recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75-150 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise every week, with at least 2 days of muscle strengthening exercise.
One fitness expert states, we need to understand how our ‘reliance on technology is impacting our lives and making us lazier’. Further, Alan Jackson who is the founder of Weight Management Centre says the real questions are ‘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 X-box and into the backyard.
But There’s Good News…
According to the recent Australian Health and Fitness Expo survey:
- A whooping 56% of those surveyed, exercised because they felt it increased their sex drive! Hello!
- Cheekily, 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, going by the last set of statistics from FELIX, 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 x 3, 10min blocks and put a workout in your work diary 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 snooze time.
- “I can’t afford it” – Download free apps on your smartphone, borrow a workout DVD from the library, or go for a jog/walk out in the nature.
- “I’m too uncomfortable” – Got to the gym at off-peak times (if you are a member) or look up an introductory/beginners class. If you’re still 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, internalise 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?