Good Day to Hear This

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.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • Pat

    I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with exercise. I was always more sedentary as a child and loved to read books. My brother on the other started young in sports and from there did martial arts for a while, then bodybuilding and to this day he and his wife work out just about every day before going to work and he’s in his mid-50s. I do walk on Saturdays with a friend and I love being in nature and always do feel rejuvenated after the walk. I try to get in a couple days of workouts on my own and sometimes I keep it up for a week or two or more, then slack off. Part of the challenge is being overweight and the effort it takes for me to work out. Fall into one tired slump or get sick and there goes my workout. But, I keep trying….

  • Trav

    What is defined as “moderate”?

    Consider the Office worker who drives to the station and catches the train to work each day. They consider themselves to be quite active because they exercise twice a week: They play in a basketball team with their mates every Wednesday night, and they participate in a church cycling group each Saturday morning- a church ministry, they meet at church and go on a one hour bike ride before having a coffee at a local cafe and do a Bible study.

    Said person might exercise for about 105 minutes a week- a 45 minute social basketball game and 60 minutes of cycling. Yet they do no other exercise. Each of us would look at a person like that and consider them to lead a fit and healthy lifestyle. Yet According to this article, they aren’t even meeting the minimum requirement because they exercise less than 150 minutes a week.

    It’s not easy working exercise into your routine.

  • scotmcknight

    Our walk with the family today — which Pat called “this isn’t a walk but a parade of people” — was cut short by rain, but Kris and I took a long walk this morning.

  • http://daleargot.com Dale

    I’ll admit for the first 46 years of my life I struggled with exercise. By that time I weighed in at 265 pounds. That year I was called to a new church and serve on staff. At the encouragement and gentle suggestions of the lead pastor, I began running. Let me tell you that it isn’t easy to begin running at 46 years old and weighing 265 pounds. The earliest runs were more like a jog/walk than anything else. Learning to run and exercising was the furthest thing from my mind when we were called there. My recollections of running from elementary school told me that I did not ever want to do that. Yet, with the encouragement and accountability of my lead pastor I started.

    This was not the first time I had tried to start getting fit. I had tried over and over again over the last 30 years, but this time (I think mainly because of the encouragement of my lead pastor) it took. As of this morning I have lost 95 pounds, run several 5K races, a 10 mile race and two half-marathons. It wasn’t love at first run and I wanted to quit over and over and over again, especially during the first year. Now, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Running and eating reasonably have become a new lifestyle for me – but it hasn’t come easy – it’s been hard work. My minimum weekly routine is well over the recommended 150 minutes (2-1/2 hours) – more like 4 hours +.

    I do want to encourage others who think it can’t be done – you can do it – it is possible even if you are overweight. Thanks for sharing this Scot

  • Pat

    Congratulations to Dale…exercise is the best and it is most helpful under
    stressful situations! I spent a career trying to convince kids that exercise
    was the way to go…it does take some discipline, but your body and mind
    definitely appreciate it.


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