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your exercise rules make me want to sit down and take a load off

December 8, 2010

in health communication,wellness

y’know, i fret about my family’s activity level, especially with all the reading on exercise i do. i know that regular exercise is important and that most of us don’t get nearly enough. my husband figures we’re doing just fine, what with our gym routines, soccer practices and pedestrian lifestyles. me, i’m fixated on those recommended daily and weekly numbers and where we’re falling short.

that’s why these two article titles caught my eye. the first was “not even kids on sports teams get enough exercise.” the second, “why wii fit is best for grandparents.”  the gist of the study on kids and sports teams is that 24% of the kids who play on soccer, baseball or softball teams get 45, not 60 minutes of exercise during practice. in some instances, “only” half the practice time is spent exercising. the article on granny and the wii fit says that exergames simply don’t get the job done. they’re “not nearly as physically demanding as real sports and physical activities” and “none of the games were as vigorous as a run or an actual tennis match, and few lasted long.” instead of buying yourself or your kids one of these exergame systems, the article suggests that you buy them for grandma, who can benefit from their ratcheted-down fitness requirements. both articles basically say the same thing: sure, you’re exercising. but are you exercising enough?!

these articles got me thinking about the messages we send about being healthy, about how to get and stay healthy, and about why i fret.

why, i ask, would we say if you’re exercising for only 45 minutes, that’s not good enough? or if you’re up and moving, not sitting for another three post-office and commute hours, that what you’re doing doesn’t equal a wimbledon match, so sit back down and give that kinect to granny? articles with this “all or nothing” messaging are disheartening, particularly when americans’ most-reported moderate activity is food and drink preparation (i kid you not). messaging like this reinforces the notion that either you hit a magic number or what you’re doing means squat and delivers no benefit.

i know we’re scared about our obesity numbers. we should be.

i know we’re stymied by how to change bad habits and sustain new ones. we’re still learning what works.

i know our current lifestyles make it hard to tackle these problems. it’s true.

doesn’t it then make sense that if you’re doing anything, and i do mean anything, that’s a step toward a healthier you, we should say “hats off to you!”?

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