From Gina Kolata:
Good day to hear this; take a walk today with the family.
“It is a sin for a healthy, capable young adult to enroll in a walking class,” he said. “It is obscene. What they are getting credit for is avoiding making any effort.”
And therein lies a problem, Dr. Dishman and other researchers say. The public health message about exercise is that any amount is good and that walking is just fine. Everyone has been told, repeatedly, that regular exercise improves health and makes people feel better, happier, more energetic. Nearly all Americans say they have heard those messages. They know that exercise is good for them and that they should do it.
Yet they do not.
About 40 percent of Americans report that they never exercise, a figure that has remained steady for decades. They will not even do the easy stuff. In studies of moderate exercise to help prevent diabetes, for example, investigators had to go to great lengths just to keep subjects in a walking program.
Now, with more recent studies using accelerometers that measure actual movement rather than relying on self-reports, the data are even more dismal. Only 3.5 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 59 do the minimum amount of physical activity recommended by the Department of Health and Human Services: 150 minutes a week of moderate activity. Among those over age 60, the percentage is even lower: 2.5 percent. “It is stunning,” said Panteleimon Ekkekakis, an exercise researcher at Iowa State University.
If Americans know exercise is so good for them, why don’t they take the message to heart as they did the exhortations against smoking? And if exercise makes people feel so good, why don’t they just do it?
Maybe, some researchers say, the problem is the message. It obviously has not had much of an effect. The idea now is to make use of tools that psychologists have developed to assess people’s moods during exercise, asking how good or bad it feels as the intensity varies.