The Solution to America’s Weight Problem? Stop Being Sedentary.

In my field of healthcare, we constantly hear and spread messages about what’s healthy. The messages range from the best and worst fast foods to exercises that will slim you down more quickly. Now – more than ever – these messages seem to be everywhere, and this week I read a fascinating story on NPR called “What Makes Us Fat: Is It Eating Too Much Or Moving Too Little?”

A recent study shows that the increase in overweight Americans is not necessarily due to the fact that we eat worse than we did 50 years ago, or even that we consume bigger portions. The findings suggest that a shift in the types of jobs Americans hold has led to a significant decrease in physical activity.

“In 1960, 1 out of 2 Americans had a job where they had lots of physical activity and actually exercised at work; by 2008, very few Americans do work that doesn’t involve sitting around all day,” according to Dr. Tim Church, a professor of preventative medicine at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University.

His research found that only 1 in 5 Americans move on the job, but Church says that’s likely a “gross underestimate,” adding that it’s probably more like 1 in 10.

I believe that it’s the culmination of a number of factors that have led to a more overweight and unhealthy culture. I know it can be difficult to find the motivation to exercise after coming home from a long day at the office. However, this article suggests (as we’ve all heard before) that just 30 minutes a day of exercise will help combat the sedentary lifestyle of the office worker. Walk your dog (as I do) or find a fun and engaging exercise class at a nearby gym. Whatever it is, just 30 minutes can lead to a healthier and happier you.

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