Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Telling people to exercise isn't working. So why does the fitness community just do it louder and more often?

According to a terrific article in today's New York Times by Tara Parker-Pope, "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."

Wow.

She also says that when it comes to self-reporting, about 40 percent of Americans say they never exercise, a stat that has remained steady for decades.

Double wow.

I found Pope's entire article, "Updating the message to Get Americans Moving," a great read, and would encourage you to check it out.

We talk more about fitness, do it less

My first takeaway from reading it is that over the past 10 years, there seem to be 100 times more blogs and magazines and fitness gurus and tv shows that all talk about how easy it is to exercise.  And yet, it changes nothing. The same percentage of people are still inactive.

So the gurus, tv doctors, gyms, fitness instructors say it louder, in even more brain-numbing terms, and in more places.  

There are people who "do" fitness, and people who "don't do" fitness

The other thing it brought home to me is how stratified our country has become in terms of health and fitness. I'd venture to guess that among my friends, fewer than 20% would report they never exercise.

Some of that probably reflects that I live in Silicon Valley with a high percentage of active adults. More likely it also reflects that people who are active hang out with others who are active. 

I'm a slug compared to most of my friends who are busy running marathons, biking for fun, and hiking for weekend pleasure.  I'm more about yoga and stairs and my PowerPlate machine. In any case, it's not about how or what, and I digress.  

Read her article.  I like that she actually says out loud what fitness people seem to ignore: telling people to work out, telling them exercise is good for them, giving them easy tips is "clearly not working."


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