Get Moving, America!

Advances in technology in the past century – from the automobile to the remote control –  have greatly changed the way we live and have made daily living much easier.   And the time we have saved through automation has given us more time to spend……………..sitting.  A recent study showed that we Americans take significantly fewer steps than people in other countries, and as a result (with some help from our poor dietary habits) we are much heavier.  Australia, Japan, and Switzerland have obesity rates ranging from 3% to 16%. In the U.S., 34% of the adult population is obese! We are now a sedentary society, and the impact has been tremendously negative.  One glaring example of the dangers of inactivity and obesity is the sharp rise in the rates of type 2 diabetes in the U.S.  If this trend continues, it could lower our life expectancy.  The rise in obesity is a very recent phenomenon, and the U.S. is now the fattest country in the world.

While many people with weight problems resort to expensive – and sometimes drastic – measures to lose weight, such as bariatric surgery, liquid diets, diet pills, and liposuction, the safest and most economic way to lose fat is to reintroduce activity that has been mechanized out of our lives.  Here are some very reasonable changes that the vast majority of the population can make:

Park your car at the farthest point from the workplace and store entrances.

Stop using escalators and moving walkways whenever possible.  And the same is true for elevators.

Eliminate the use of drive through banking and shopping of any kind.  Park your car and walk.

Use a broom and rake instead of a leaf blower.

Most importantly: Get off the sofa at home and chair at work at frequent intervals.  Simply standing up burns significantly more calories than sitting.  And sitting for prolonged periods has been shown to be very unhealthy.

If you think the lifestyle changes listed above are too simple or insignificant to make a difference, please check out what researcher Dr. James Levine of the Mayo Clinic has to say.  He estimates that 100-200 calories of physical activity have been mechanized out of our daily lives and reversing that equation can potentially solve the obesity epidemic.  And here’s a concrete example: The average American woman takes less than 5,000 steps a day, while the average Old Order Amish woman takes 14,000 steps.  The Amish are amongst the least fat of any community in North America.

So let’s get moving!

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