Most Americans know obesity is bad for their health and that it’s increasing at an alarming rate. In fact, obesity climbed from 25 percent to 35 percent for women and from 20 percent to 35 percent for men during the past 20 years. But what do we blame for the obesity epidemic – is it our diet, or our physical activity level?
A recent large-scale study published in The American Journal of Medicine found that the increase in obesity in the United States over the past 20 years may be due to our sedentary lifestyles and not our caloric intake. The study was conducted using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to examine trends in obesity, physical activity and caloric intake from 1988 to 2010 in American adults.
The researchers found that American adults’ diets have remained – at least as far as calories are concerned – the same over the last two decades. In comparison, American adults’ exercise levels have decreased significantly during that time.
More specifically, the percentage of women reporting no exercise more than doubled during the study period, increasing from 19.1 percent to 51.7 percent. Similarly, the percentage of men reporting no exercise nearly quadrupled, from 11.4 percent to 43.2 percent.
The researchers concluded that the nationwide drop in exercise may be responsible for the upward trend in obesity rates; but because this is an observational study, it does not address the possible causal link between inactivity and weight gain.
How to get people to exercise and improve their eating habits is a major challenge considering all the competing theories of how to lose weight and exercise efficiently. There is no secret solution to the obesity epidemic. We need to move more and eat better. And following the established recommendations about eating well and exercising regularly may be the best place to start.
ASK FIT LIFE
Can a foam roller alleviate tense muscles?
We all get sore and stiff muscles. Maybe it’s from a killer workout, sleeping the wrong way, an injury or just the daily wear and tear we endure. Often our first thoughts are to a get professional massage, take a pain-relieving drug or visit our doctor. But could there be a more convenient, inexpensive and scientifically proven way to loosen up your sore muscles and help prevent injuries without the cost of a professional and in the comfort of your own home? Make room for a type of massage and pain-relieving device called the foam roller. Essentially, foam rolling is a popular form of self-myofascial release, which is a fancy term for self-massage. Foam rollers provide some R n’ R for our overused muscles that is scientifically proven to improve range of motion and performance and reduce muscle soreness and stiffness. Added bonuses are that foam rolling is inexpensive, quick and convenient. About 10-15 minutes a day is all it takes for your self-massage. So let’s start rolling.
Fit Life, by fitness and healthy aging expert Heather Hausenblas, associate professor of kinesiology in the Jacksonville University College of Health Sciences, appears each month in the Outside section of The Florida Times-Union. E-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more on JU’s Department of Kinesiology, visit http://ju.edu/chs.