CAMP Fitness: Delaware's State of Fitness
by Rick Moore
For many active people, its hard to imagine just sitting around, doing nothing. I like to count myself among that active group, so if Im not working out, Im huffing and puffing on one of the cardio machines, or at least walking around, gardening, or something like that.
I really dont have the luxury of watching TV, or browsing on the computer. And in a way, I dont miss it all that much. Ive got better things to do. I cant stand still!
If you take a look around the beach area, many people have started to get into fitness, or have been into it for some time. Its not just the chiseled city boys, either (you expect that).
You see people of all ages and backgrounds out playing volleyball on the sand, bike riding, skateboarding, jogging, or just walking briskly. Im even happy to count several people in their 70s as members of my fitness center, and these seniors lead very active lifestyles.
So it looks like the majority of people at any age have decided to get up, take charge of their health, and help ward off diseases through vigorous exercise. Sounds almost too good to be true. Well now, what we see around us might not reflect reality at all.
If you believe the data published by the Centers for Disease Control, its a different world. In fact, most people in the public health field will tell you that total inactivitythe couch potato lifestylehas been growing at an alarming rate in this country. Those smart ones you see out and aboutdoing stuffare hiding an overwhelming majority of people who do nothing more physically strenuous than click a computer mouse or change a TV channel.
The CDCs Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, which asks about lots of health issues beyond just exercise, found that 36.1 percent of Delaware residents reported that they participated in no physical activities at all during the previous month. None! Remember, they define "physical activities" pretty liberally here, it doesnt have to be a workout at a fitness center to qualify.
The 1996 survey is the most recent one in which exercise data was collected for Delaware, so it will be interesting to see the trend future studies will show.
There were other results from this study in Delaware that were just as shocking. The more educated the person, the more likely they were to report that they exercised. Only 57% of the high school graduates said they were engaged in physical activities during the past month, but 77.6% of the college graduates said they exercised. The relationship between income and exercise was also strong, with only 48.6% of people earning less than $15,000 per year reporting that they engaged in physical activity. It was 76.8% for those earning more than $50,000.
Now, I know that statistics can be tricky. You can make them prove anything you want. But I think it safe to assume that theres a huge number of people out there who arent even getting enough exercise to keep themselves healthy, let alone get themselves fit. Davids put most of the data, as well as links to more, on our health clubs website so you can read and interpret it for yourself. You can also compare Delaware to other states in the survey, and look up all the health-related questions the CDC asked people. Some of the statistics will make you shake your head.
Every day, I speak with people who say they are so busy in their day-to-day lives that they cant take even 20 minutes, three times a week to exercise. They have to drive the kids to soccer practice, work on stuff from the office, wash clothes, you name it. All that stuff is important, and it has to get done. Exercise, which is looked upon as "recreation," is the loser in the fight for time.
As adults, we have to be positive role models to our kids if the future generation is to benefit from a healthy lifestyle. Being inactive adults usually means unhealthy kids who tend to be overweight and lack interest in exercise. Couple this with heavily advertised, high-fat snack foods aimed at kids, and the problem grows even more.
Im not writing this to make value judgments on people, but maybe exercise shouldnt be the loser. Every week we hear more and more about the benefits of exercise and the number of serious diseases it helps prevent. Osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and high blood pressure are the big ones. Yet people are actually exercising less, not more.
OK, Delaware, lets get on the ball. Exercise should be part of your everyday routine. Make time for yourself. How about getting a partner or a friend to join you in an exercise program? Get out of the house and socialize with your fellow human beings.
Get active and get healthy! See you at the beach!
Rick Moore is a personal trainer certified by the American Fitness Professionals & Associates. He believes in common-sense, drug-free training. Visit him at Ricks Fitness & Health, Inc., in beautiful downtown Milton. Check out his website at http://www.enrapt.com/ricksfitness, or give him a call at (302) 684-3669.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 9, No. 8, July 2, 1999