There is a lot of news about how good exercise is for us, but for many people that doesn’t make much difference. There is often a gap between knowing and doing.
There is no magic age to start being active, it should be a normal part of your day. There also isn’t age when you get to “retire” from exercise.
If you are reading this you are probably one of the converted. If you are thinking about being more active, do something, anything and don’t quit. Ever.
The latest news about our collective activity levels isn’t great. 19-year-olds are as sedentary as 60-year-olds. No age group gets enough exercise or activity throughout the day. Researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health tracked 12,529 people between the ages of 5 and 84 with fitness trackers for 7 consecutive days. 25% of boys and 50% between 6-11 years old and 50% of boys and 75% of the girls in the 12-19 age category did not meet the recommended activity levels. Only after the age of 60 did women become more active than men.
I think, like real estate, there is one very important factor not mentioned in these findings on activity levels. Location. Location. Location.
Like food deserts, there are activity deserts. How active you are will depend on how easy it is to be active and the activity level of your friends.
Where I live there are more Olympic athletes than any other town. If you go by the theory that 19-year-olds are as fit as 60-year-olds, that is true here too. A few weeks ago one of the locals summited 5 mountain peaks in 16 hours for his seventieth birthday. Although he recommends that older athletes start with 2 mountain summits in one day… so far I have only done one in a day, but I still have 20 years to catch up.
You feel compelled to be active when there is so much to do and so many people who are outside being active. There is a definite distinction between the tourists wandering down Main Street and the locals sneaking into the coffee shop to get a caffeine hit before the next adventure.
If you aren’t interested in being active you probably won’t last here.
On the other side of that, there are plenty of places where being inactive is normal. Those are the people that need to get moving, but here is the problem. If being active isn’t easily incorporated into your day and you don’t see the benefit why bother? If it isn’t easy to walk to the grocery store you will take the car, if it is easier to go to the drive thru, why get out and walk a few feet? If riding your bike to work is too dangerous or difficult you won’t do it. If it is normal to drive everywhere, that is what you will do.
If climbing 5 mountain peaks for your 70th birthday isn’t considered too outrageous, simply a challenge, then you will not only consider it, you will do it.
The collective challenge for all of us (the converted) is to make those people who don’t think that activity is important or haven’t taken the time to make it part of their day to make any activity seem normal. To encourage any movement in our sedentary friends, family, coworkers. Simply by being active, you are setting an example – if I can do it so can you.
The cost of inactivity is paid by all of us. In 2012 the total health care cost of physical inactivity in Canada was $6.8 BILLION.
If you could encourage one person to be more active. You could make a difference. You could change someone’s life. Every little thing counts. Every step adds up.
Change your mind, change your health,
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