Finding Exercise Opportunities Everywhere
Even though health clubs, spinning centers, yoga salons and personal trainers can be found in pretty much every city we continue to lose the battle of the bulge. The average person is significantly larger than our counter parts 5 decades ago. For instance according to a study by the CDC in the 1960’s the average woman weighed 140.2 lbs. and the average man weighed 165 lbs. Today the average woman weighs 166.2 lbs. or roughly as much as the average man weighed then. Men have fared no better, today the average man weighs 195.5 lbs. that’s an increase or 17.6%. Both men and women are an inch taller today, but that hardly makes up for the weight increase.
We can ask ourselves, “How did we get here?” The answer is lifestyle change. Back then the world was less automated. If you wanted to change the TV you had to get up to change the channel or audio. When you mowed the lawn (yes most people mowed their own lawn) you had to push the mower. Dishes and clothes were still mostly washed by hand. People washed their own car and in single car families (the norm then) many took public transportation which meant a fair bit of walking too. Though this doesn’t seem like it would make much of a difference it added up to about a pound a year which by the way is the average we gain per year after age 25. That would put us at a net gain of zero. I know a pound a year doesn’t seem like a big deal, but that means that at 35 you weigh 10 lbs. more than you did at 25 and at 45 there is another 10, at 55 yet 10 more. By 65 you are 40 lbs. heavier than you were at 25, we are fat people and getting fatter all the time. Add to this that after 35 we start to lose muscle and bone density at about ½ a pound a year. So, even if you only gained 5 pounds in your forties, the 5 pounds of muscle and bone you lost obscure the rest of the fat weight you gained.
Another component of lifestyle is diet. The fact is we simple eat more today than what was the norm back then. With all you can eat buffets, massive portions at Bar and Grills, pasta dinners that are 3 times the size of portions served in Italy by the way, supersize this and supersize that and you can see the problem. When I was a kid a friend and I might share a 16 ounce soda (a large back then). Today you see kids drinking a 32 ounce drink all by themselves and it’s not even the large. We have become accustomed to getting our value and in most cases that means more for your money rather than better quality. We also tend to eat out more than previous generations and that means less control over what you are consuming.
So, basically our problem is twofold, a worse diet of larger more calorie dense and nutrient devoid foods and a more sedentary lifestyle.
Reversing the Trend
I’m not recommending that we give up our automated advances many which help us lead happier more productive lives. What I am saying is that a few lifestyle adjustments could go a long way in keeping us not only leaner, but healthier and fitter. It starts with diet. Cut back on simple and starchy carbohydrates by say 10%. Reduce or eliminate the worst sugar calories of all by which I mean regular soda. Try eating the fruit instead of drinking the juice. When you serve yourself a meal try not to over fill your plate. Often times we eat what’s in front of us whether we are still hungry or not.
Exercise opportunities can be found everywhere and can reverse that pound a year gain without going to the gym. At a health club I once managed people would complain about the close parking spaces being taken. I used to tell them “think of the extra walk as a warm-up” after all they were coming in for exercise. So, next time you go to the store park a little farther out and burn a few more calories. If you’re only going up a couple of floors take the stairs. Try riding your bike to work when possible. Wash your car yourself, you could burn a couple hundred calories and save 10-15 bucks. Need to run an errand 2-3 blocks away give the car a break and walk. Need a few items from the store, carry the hand basket rather than pushing the cart. The opportunities are there, you just have to take them. Remember 1 pound a year is 10 pounds per decade and for many of us is all we need.
These rates are for a person of 150 lbs. Per 15 minutes
Sweeping – 39 cals
Mopping – 43 cals
Household task – moderate effort – 43 cals
Washing dishes – 22 cals
Vacuuming – 43 cals
Mowing lawn – 81 cals
Cleaning windows – 76 cals
Gardening – 85 cals
Washington Post – The average American woman now weighs now weighs as much as the average 1960’s man
Boston.com - Long term weight gain- how does it happen?
Live Science.com – Four-decade study: Americans taller, fatter
ShareCare.com –How many calories can I burn doing house work?
Calorie Lab.com – Calories burned search results for home activities