Hi everybody, Dr. Cobb back with you this week.
I hope you are doing really, really well.
I’m going to talk about a new study that’s just come out from Stanford University and it is a portion of what’s called the NHANES Study, which has been going on for a really long time.
This study draws a really dramatic correlation between lack of physical activity and the increasing numbers of people that we see that are overweight or obese in the United States. This is really important because what we’ve been hearing from the last decade is hey, we eat too much, we eat too much, we eat too much, and we eat the wrong foods. We want to look at the total environment so this study actually shows a really interesting picture. Let me go through it with you really quickly.
The first portion of the study was performed in 1994, that looked at men and women separately and they looked at them to see “hey, how much leisure time physical activity are people participating in?” They basically quantified the number of people that were not doing any kind of leisure time physical activity; people that are just sedentary when they have the opportunity to get out and play with their kids or whatever.
In 1994 in women they found about 19.1% of women were sedentary during their leisure time so no physical activity. In men they found roughly 11% or so. That was 1994, today the study that was published looks then at the next gap which is in 2010. From 1994 to 2010 they redid the survey and what they found is that now as of 2010 51% of women were not participating in any kind of leisure time physical activity and around 43% of men were not participating in any kind of leisure time physical activity.
That’s an enormous jump, basically 30% of the population has become more and more sedentary over the last whatever that is; sixteen years. Why this is really important is that researchers then tracked that to the increasing body mass, body mass index, if you will, of people in the United States and there’s a really strong correlation.
The researchers are not saying hey, what we eat doesn’t matter or how much we eat doesn’t matter. What they can say is in that 1994 to 2010 window there was not a dramatic increase in the number of calories being consumed on a daily basis by the average American. Maybe food quality change, etc, but what definitively changed for a huge portion of the population is a progressive decline in how much we were moving.
I’m going to also connect this to another study from the Neilson Group that looks at TV time in the United States. I’m going to come to an exercise here in just a second. What I want you to hear right now as of 2013 the last time, the time this was last researched, the average American watches five hours per day of television and as you get older, the number of hours of television goes up. By the time most people are 65 they’re watching seven hours a day of television.
How does that connect to the loss of leisure time physical activity? I think it’s really, really simple, if we look at what’s happened around our country and around the world really is we have begun to adopt more and more forms of passive entertainment. We have our phones, we have our iPads, we have our computers, we have our televisions and we are constantly bombarded with opportunities to just sit and receive stimulus, right, receive entertainment, so it’s all passive.
What I’d like for you to do this week is I want you to consider these two things, right? We have this huge number of hours spent per day by most Americans in front of some kind of electronic device, combined with the fact that nearly 50% of the population does nothing in their leisure time physically. They don’t go play golf; they don’t take a walk, nothing on average.
Is it possible and this is a question I want you to ask yourself; is it possible that the environment around us, right, the fact that we have all this passive entertainment available that we can just sit back and run our remote controls; is that potentially leading a lot of us to move less?
What I’d love for you to do this week is an exercise. I’m not going to ask you to turn off any of your electronics, I promise. What I am going to ask you to do is pay attention to how much you’re using them. If you would in your house set up a little log by your television, I would love for you to write down the time that it gets turned on during the day and a time that it gets turned off. Think of, do nothing else.
I’m not asking you to turn it off at any point, I’m not asking you to take a walk instead of watching the television. Really what I’ve found over the years of working with people is that it’s our awareness of our environment that very often begins to help us drive changes in our lives.
If you’ll spend this week doing nothing more than tracking whatever electronic device you spend the most time on, it doesn’t have to be the television it could be the computer, iPad or phone. Track the amount of time you spend dedicated to it each day or at least how much time it’s on and in front of you.
Once you have that data, next week what I would love for you to do is go hey, all right, that was a little startling maybe, maybe you figured out that your TV’s on for six hours every night. I’d love for you to pick a 20-minute window next week, not this week because this week you’re tracking but in a week’s time pick a 20-minute window in which you turn it off. Again, I’m not telling you to go for a walk or do push-ups in those 20 minutes. I just want you to turn it off and see what happens.
See if that actually prompts you to move around a little bit more if nothing else, maybe you get up and clean the kitchen. All those little bits and pieces of movement can actually have dramatic impacts on our lives. If you want to give yourself that little window of opportunity it really starts with awareness.
That’s my little rant for the week, it’s been, this has been on my mind ever since I read the study and I want to make sure that our community, the Z-Health community because we’re so dedicated to long-term health, long-term improvements in performance that we realize that this is happening in our environment, in our culture and we may actually be affected by it. Plus we need to look at our own environments and know what is potentially preventing us from being a little bit more physical.
Think this through, try the exercise out and if you want to, email us the results. I would love to hear what you figure out about your own life in terms of the things that are maybe providing you more passive leisure time activity than active.
All right, that’s it for this week; hope you have a fantastic one.
If we can help you in any way, let us know.