Doing the same thing over and over can create lethargy and boredom. This applies to physical activities as well. So, most people get involved in more than one kind of physical activity to keep them healthy and happy. Besides, our muscles and joints require different kinds of challenges to keep them strong and moving.
In my collection of old articles, I found a TIME magazine (June 13, 2005) which reported on a poll of 1011 adult Americans to see how many people exercise every week and the type of exercise they do. Nearly a third of North Americans are considered obese and a quarter of Americans (22 per cent of men, 28 per cent of women) admit that they virtually spend no time getting exercise in their leisure time.
The poll found most respondents do exercise every week. But the type of exercise or physical activity they do varies from taking a brisk walk (69 per cent) to bowling (seven per cent). Half the respondents admitted to being overweight. Dr. Tim Church, medical director, Cooper Institute, a fitness research centre in Dallas, is quoted in the article saying, “We have two epidemics. One is obesity, the other is physical inactivity.”
According to the TIME poll, 69 per cent take a brisk walk, 35 per cent use exercise machine, 32 per cent lift weights, 30 per cent ride a bike, 27 per cent jog or run, 22 per cent do aerobic exercise, 21 per cent swim, 19 per cent dance, 18 per cent play some kind of sport like soccer, 18 per cent go hiking, eight per cent play golf, seven per cent do yoga, seven per cent bowl.
Make sure the physical activity you enjoy is safe for you and people around you. A lot depends on your age, health and what kind of activity you are involved in. Riding bicycles is a good example. According to the National Safety Council in the U.S., there are 57 million Americans riding bicycles that range all the way from dirt bikes up to high performance 18-speed models.
An article in the Bulletin of the American College of Surgeons (October 2007) says, cycling ranks as the seventh most popular recreational activity after exercise walking, swimming, camping, fishing, exercise with equipment and bowling. Millions of cyclists occupy the same streets, paths and sidewalks as motor vehicles and pedestrians. There are statistics to show that many pedestrians and cyclists are injured by motor vehicles. About 14 per cent of the injured end up in rehab, nursing homes or die from their injuries. Riding motor bikes can be dangerous too.
Walking is a pretty simple way to exercise. But we have the lowest percentage of trips by walking of any country. We live in a modern society which encourages laziness and lack of movement. Compare ourselves to Old Order Amish, a religious sect which does not use cars and other modern transportation methods.
A study conducted by the Tennessee’s Department of Health and Exercise Science found that an average Amish man takes 18,425 steps a day, and the average Amish woman takes 14,196 steps. A typical American takes about 5,000 steps a day.
This shows what modernisation has done to us. It has made us lazy. Vagaries of the weather further encourage our laziness. Now that summer is over and weather is starting to get nasty for outdoor activities, we must start thinking of physical activities we can do indoors or safely outdoors. Make sure you are fit to do what you want to do. Then build your stamina slowly. There are numerous activities you can pick from. Keep it simple and start slowly. Talk to a professional trainer.