The Day The Earth Stood Still: Our World And Inactivity




This is our second instalment in the Guide to Lifelong Fitness series.

Sometimes I wonder what our forefathers thought of the future.  Yeah sure they probably thought of flying cars, teleportation machines and artificial intelligent robots (I mean, I know I would have), but I wonder how much they thought about the future making things easier for people.  Did they think that humans wouldn’t need to walk to work anymore and could instead step into a machine that could propel you forward with minimal human effort?  Or did they think most people wouldn’t need to do physical labor anymore and could instead rely on machines by quickly pressing plastic keys all day?  I wonder how much our predecessors thought making technological advancements would increase the quality of life for mankind and whether there was a danger to it as well.

Our society isn’t too far from the future described above.  Today, more and more people are living a life with less activity and less movement.  In fact, recently I found a study that shows an upward trend in the US has resulted in 60% of our workforce being knowledge workers.  That means at least 6 out of 10 working people in our country have a job whose main priority is to sit and do work that requires mostly thinking rather than doing physical labor.  So if the majority of workers spend most of their days sitting and staying sedentary, then it’s not difficult to see why most of us have difficulty finding ways to stay fit, active and healthy with the rest of our day.

Furthermore, since our typical assumptions of future success has become more dependent on how well we think instead of how well we move and stay active, this affects how we raise our children as well.  For example, in 2011 only a third of our children participated in physical education class.  And if only one in three of our next generation will know how to dribble a basketball or run a mile, I wonder how much they will encourage their own children to stay physically active.

Understanding this is critical to realizing how and why American society and culture has shifted where obesity and cardiovascular disease has become one of the greatest public health issues of our era.  With the growing of professional careers and white collar jobs, the US is slated for a growing population of workers that are becoming less and less active during peak hours of the day. This is not to say that an advancing society of professionals and technological improvements is bad.  On the contrary, I believe these advancements are among the greatest achievements in our history.  However, it is important for us to be aware how these affect the future or our public health.

Fortunately, our predecessors had the foresight to provide enough freedoms for individuals like myself and organizations to voice their opinions and access avenues to shape both public policy and launch their own initiatives.  More and more programs, TV shows, and fitness method varieties are being spread and although some of these methods might not be the best, collectively they are a step in the right direction to getting people’s health back on track.  Hopefully, one day we’ll will find the right balance of knowledge creation and health.  I know we’ll keep chugging out work here at movemo to make sure that happens.

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