New Physical Activity Guidelines Urge Americans: Move More
Of course they do. It turns out that fewer than 20 per cent of Americans meet the minimum recommended amount of daily physical activity. It’s not a lot either, just 150 minutes a week. I don’t have the numbers for Canadians but in this regard I know we’re not that different.
Now 150 minutes a week is not the optimal amount of recommended exercise. That number would be much higher. This is the minimum. There’s been talking through the years of raising the minimum recommended amount but the public health consensus seems to be that just wouldn’t be motivational. People would look at the higher number, cry, and go sit back on the sofa with Netflix.
Image description: Browsing images for “Netflix and sofa” I found this one on Unsplash. It’s a white cuddle chair with purple throw pillows near a window. I like it!
There’s another interesting thing about the amount of exercise Americans get. Of the fewer than 20% who make the minimum, a small percentage get 5 or 10 as much as is recommended.
Maybe you do. You’re reading this blog, after all. I aim for 90 min a day (Google Fit tracks it for me) and make it most days. So I meet the minimum in 2 days.
So rather than most people exercising a moderate amount through daily movement and everyday exercise, we’ve got a few people who work out a lot while the majority of people get no exercise at all. ( Again, I say “we” because although these are US numbers, Canadians aren’t much better.)
So how do we do it? Here’s some advice on making time for movement.
And when I asked on our Facebook page, there was a lot of positive discussion.
Here are some of the Facebook commentators’ ideas:
- Fitting it into your workday is helpful – taking a brisk walk during your lunch hour, and/or using a standing desk.
- Create a culture of exercising for fun. I wouldn’t be where I am re: amount of exercise per week if I didn’t have running, barre, and climbing buddies to go with.
- Cities designed to be walked in, fewer malls that require driving to and working fewer hours so that people have time to walk, cycle etc.
- Stop building towns that require or encourage you to drive everywhere. encourage people to walk or cycle, to work ( or public transport & walk) to school, to church, to shops. Build sidewalks instead of parking lots. America’s obsession with the automobile is a massive part of the problem. Health insurance incentives for the active. Fitbit etc can help monitor.
- Doctors could suggest movement for minor muscle strains/ bad backs rather than drugs.
- Be European for a day and walk more / drive less
- Infrastructure changes to restore walkability, cracking down on developers putting more and more fast food businesses in economically depressed areas. Adjusting the school day to include more fitness, but fitness for fun, not the hated structure of gym class where you “have” to participate in that day’s activity even if it’s something that makes you really uncomfortable.
- A city design that doesn’t require that you drive everywhere, making physical activity something that you have to go out of your way to do?
- It would be nice if you could take your dog more places. I’d love to combine walking my dog with doing errands but the only place I’m sure I can take her is the bank/ATM.
- As someone who hated sports and slowly found her way to regular exercise between age 25 and 40, I wish school PE classes would focus on helping kids find what they like, and maybe focus more on the things that people do as lifelong activities. I think some of the things they focus on do meet that criteria but using that as a focus I feel like might be helpful
- I also hated team sports growing up, but now in my 30’s I’ve discovered hiking, working out with a trainer, and horseback riding as activities I now love. I dreaded PE in school and if they would’ve been more focused on just MOVING instead of team sports, I may have figured out how to enjoy exercise much earlier.
- Shorter work hours. More accessible green spaces. Affordable shared spaces for activity. Free childcare at gyms/studios.
- It’s a public health issue, not a personal health issue at this point. And I think it is an issue of access more than an issue of motivation. (That’s an observation- I haven’t looked into the actual research.)
- Better sidewalks, bike lanes, walkable cities, public transit. The infrastructure current in the US defaults to car travel.