In 2015, obesity continues to rise, while our activity level continues to fall. While physical activity isn’t the prime mover in weight loss—that honor goes to proper nutrition—it’s certainly a vital tool in turning back those numbers on the scale. In the 1980’s, we were all about getting active: aerobics, Jazzercise—hell, Olivia Newton-John even wrote a whole song about it! Getting physical is on the decline, and waistlines are on the rise. I’m the first to admit that it’s a complicated, multifaceted scenario that we’re facing. Here’s three of those facets that contribute to our tendency towards inactivity.
“Busy” became a badge of honor
When you ask the modern professional about their activity level, they’ll probably tell you that they’re busy. Busy with kids, with career, with LIFE. We like to look like our lives are full to bursting with activity, leaving us no time for little things like actually taking care of our physical health. As an entrepreneur, I’m a busy guy, too: launching a new business takes time and effort! Still, even the busiest businessperson could carve out 30 mintues a day for exercise if it meant saving their own lives (Hint: it definitely helps.).
Our robot overlords are here, and they demand our attention
Along with the rise of the “busy” lifestyle came the tech explosion. Our minds get so distracted by our technology—iPhones, tablets, laptops, streaming video, Facebook—that it’s hard to focus long enough to actually work on our bodies. Again, I’m no stranger to my distractions—this article is taking double the time needed because I keep checking Facebook on my phone! The point is this: all of these distractions demand that we stay put. You can’t run at the park while you watch House of Cards. Nobody’s tweeting while they’re going for new PRs on their bench press. We have to choose which activity serves us better. Will it be Netflix at 7 am, or will it be that Crossfit workout at the box down the street?
Talk is cheap; social validation is cheaper
I see it almost every single day on Facebook: “I’m going to start my new [exercise regimen] tomorrow! Wish me luck!” These are often followed up, just a few days later, by “I fell off the wagon! I’m so disgusted with myself! Lol.” Both of these comments get the same results for the would-be athlete: blanket social validation for work they never did. It’s easy to talk about life change and get those “attaboy’s” lobbed at us from our friends. It’s even easier to get those comments from social media. After all, you never even have to leave the house to get congratulated/pitied! Here’s a simple tip: if you’re going to get active, then do it. Instead of telling your followers who do little more than feed your ego like sycophants, grab a buddy and get a solid month of physical activity under your belt. Only then will you have something worth congratulating.
In the end, it’s about what we show them
Sure, physical activity has declined over the last 3 decades. Times changed, and society changes with them. However, these same things that led to sedentary lifestyles can be used to feed the next trends in physical fitness. Our challenge, my active brethren, is to keep getting after that workout every damn day, just like always. Those same factors that led to laziness can be used for good. Busy lifestyle? Start with a 5-minute burner before your morning shower or cup of coffee. Too distract by technology? Use that smartphone to look up new running trails and bodyweight exercises to try out today. Need social validation to feel better? Quit yammering about buying a gym membership and start doing something worth talking about. Better yet, grab some buddies and remember what it’s like to connect in real life. We all got off of our asses; let’s show the rest of the people how to get off of theirs.