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Old 08-20-08, 11:15 AM   #1
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The Sedentary Society - How Does That Get Changed?

The Sedentary (and obese) Society - How Does That Get Changed?

I was wondering if there were any thoughts or ideas on how you get folks to change their sedentary and other habits, which seem to lead to unhealthy lifestyles, obesity, and a host of related physical conditions and diseases.

Any personal stories?

Think about this on a societal level. Is there anything that leaders in health, government, schools, etc., could do to make a real difference?

What made a difference (if anything) in your own life?

I do believe the US of A is the fattest and most sedentary nation in the world, and in history. I am making the assumption that being the fattest and least exercised is not a good thing.

Ideas, folks? Or is this simply a lost cause? Or, perhaps it just doesn't matter?

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Old 08-20-08, 11:28 AM   #2
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Throughout a large swath of human history it's been fashionable to appear sedentary, because it was a mark of affluence. If you're fat it means you have access to lots of food; if you're pale and weak it means you don't have to do any work; if you're tanned it means you spend your leisure time outdoors (that last one is a 20th-century development, but it's the same philosophy).

Right now we're living in an era where most of the work that people do is sedentary, due to the fact that large companies employ large numbers of people to do low-paying and non-physical jobs. Lots of people stand at cash registers or sit at desks all day. Being sedentary no longer means you're rich; it's easy to be fat even if you're poor, because starchy sugary processed foods with little other nutritive value are cheaper than fresh whole foods.*

The fittest people are the ones who have time, and good neighborhoods and clean air to exercise in, or money to go to a gym. Following past trends, I'll bet we do see a shift towards physical fitness as fashionable, because it's becoming the domain of the well-to-do.

* I don't mean this judgementally; I'm just noting that health conditions that arise from being sedentary, such as obesity and heart disease, may very well be the occupational health hazards of today's working class, just like missing fingers or asbestos inhalation in turn-of-the-century factory workers.

Last edited by Indie; 08-20-08 at 11:32 AM.
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Old 08-20-08, 11:57 AM   #3
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Intersting question. I think for one we would need to teach our childern and schools better habits. So what if we served veggies and eggs - or even chicken for breakfast? what if we did not have cafeterias that served fried anything in the schools? What if you needed a license to parent - and it included a nutrition test (ok perhpas this may not work).

Anyway - I think that it would be a hard thing to change - and would need to come from parents and start in the schools and with kids as they are the future.

The other thing that could be done - is alot of campaigns and public speaking by former fattys - or even adds like those for stoping smoking. What if we showed what happens when you eat too many Big Macs as a kid....

Anyway - I think we on this forum can help people one person at a time...Me i am still a chubby biker...but am progressing one pound at a time.

It's very hard to change other people!

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Old 08-20-08, 12:03 PM   #4
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Our culture is about money. We work, drive our cars & watch TV. We need to take back our lives. Until that happens... money will rule.
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Old 08-20-08, 12:42 PM   #5
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The Sedentary (and obese) Society - How Does That Get Changed?

I was wondering if there were any thoughts or ideas on how you get folks to change their sedentary and other habits, which seem to lead to unhealthy lifestyles, obesity, and a host of related physical conditions and diseases.

Any personal stories?

Think about this on a societal level. Is there anything that leaders in health, government, schools, etc., could do to make a real difference?

What made a difference (if anything) in your own life?

I do believe the US of A is the fattest and most sedentary nation in the world, and in history. I am making the assumption that being the fattest and least exercised is not a good thing.

Ideas, folks? Or is this simply a lost cause? Or, perhaps it just doesn't matter?
simplest, easiest solution? Ban free parking.
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Old 08-20-08, 12:47 PM   #6
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You can't force people to change. It's just not possible. Someone becomes active only when they want to. External forces don't make them. It's got to come from within each individual.

Believing otherwise is to fall into a fallacious trap.
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Old 08-20-08, 12:54 PM   #7
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Public Schools like little fat kids seated in class 24-7 + summer school. With parents working and no grandparents kids the only way to raise kids is to keep them locked up. Parents do not have the time for their kids an outdoor lifestyle.

Suggestion: eliminate high school. after JHS the kids will either go to college (which, in the US, already has low level remedial courses) or into the workforce (where they will learn that chubby does not get you the $$$$).
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Old 08-20-08, 01:01 PM   #8
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Actually according to the World Health Organization the United States is nowhere near the fattest country. http://www.who.int/infobase/compare....gegroup=15-100 That reccord goes to Nauru, heck we're not even top five

Ideally: Bring back P.E. in school, make it a requirement. A tax based on % of body fat (because BMI isn't an entirely reliable measuring stick), ban HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup), ban hydrogenated oils, have centrally funded gym memberships where going is a requirement under penalty of fraud (would have to hit a certain % of days to avoid persecution), replace vending machines with ones that serve apples, subsidize raw fruits and vegetables to encourage low income families to purchase them instead of cheap calorie and sugar dense foods, ban escaladers, require elevator permits (don't have a condition, use the stairs), and television timers.

Eh Comrades?

Realistic: There is nothing one can do. They must make the choice themselves to change and no amount of pressure be it from friends nor government can make them change.
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Old 08-20-08, 01:28 PM   #9
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You can't force people to change. It's just not possible. Someone becomes active only when they want to. External forces don't make them. It's got to come from within each individual.

Believing otherwise is to fall into a fallacious trap.
Unless it is their parents. In my opinion, the only way to change it for the next generation is for parents to bite the bullet and raise their kids (novel idea isn't it). As the parent of 2 sons, I can tell you it isn't easy. We made a lot of sacrifices in lifestyle so we could survive without a second income.

My wife stayed home (yeah, like she was ever home) to take care of our boys. She helped in their classrooms, ran them to practices, made sure they weren't spending too much time in front of the TV and prepared real food.

For my part, I set aside time to attend as many of my kids' games as I could, take them on regular camping trips (about the only vacation we could afford most of the time but they grew up appreciating nature and being outside) and make sure my wife was supported in the limits we set on our kids.

They are now teenagers and happy, healthy, well adjusted and doing great in school. We still get in about 35 days of camping a year that we schedule in and around their soccer, basketball and volleyball seasons. They are both over 6' and lean. Hopefully the start we have given them will last through their lifetime.

And all this while I was a card-carrying member of the sedentary society! At least they are seeing how much getting off my tush has done for me over the course of the past year. A little late but I'm working on the "do as I do" part of the equation.
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Old 08-20-08, 01:29 PM   #10
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Nauru - Population: 13,770 (July 2008 est.)

Built on a phosphate rock island.

Isn't phosphate the stuff they make ice cream sodas from? Perhaps that is the problem
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Old 08-20-08, 01:46 PM   #11
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Old 08-20-08, 01:49 PM   #12
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I can tell you what made a huge difference for me. I stopped watching TV. I can tell you what shows are on TV only because I hear folks talking about them at work. I certainly couldn't tell you any story lines. I watch football, Ravens and Michigan, and little else.
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Old 08-20-08, 01:54 PM   #13
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Forgive me whilst I rant...

We are not a lazy nation and if you think we are you haven't really put any real consideration into this. I use my brain to work, not my body. That is the way it is these days. In the late 90's the buzz phrase was "service economy".

The point is, people are mentally exhuasted at the end of the work day and then have to do all of the things that need to be done around the house, and for the kids, attempt to wade through the news, etc. I am an engineer and can be absolutely sapped after 9 hours in my office without ever having left my ass.

I know that the physical work of exercise actually improves my energy levels and overall physical and mental performance. That is why I do it! Hell, it's shouted from the rooftops by all advocates for active lifestyles. However, to reiterate what others have already stated in this thread, you have to have buy-in. You can't mandate, coerce, plead, or whip people into accepting it.

Take care of yourself, gently persuade those around you by example, and clear your mind of any crazy ideas of "gov't knows best" legislation. We have given away enough of our rights because we are so concerned that everyone needs us to help them make decisions.

On a side note, I would agree that fitness is a symbol of status in the way golf does. Both because it shows the spare time and money to devote to "leisure", and because the more affluent among us do not eat excessive amounts of fast food - we can afford to shop at ridiculously priced places like Whole Foods.

The finest example of this I can think of is the $4000 bike that is being sold on Craigs list that a guy only put a couple hundred miles on then decided he wasn't into it. HA!
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Old 08-20-08, 02:07 PM   #14
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In the post apocalyptic future, no one will have a sedentary lifestyle. I'll be living in the debris field 12 klicks north of Old Los Angeles. Roving tribes of outlaws armed with spears and rocks will keep people moving while they look for cover and concealment. Restaurants will be a thing of the past as we hone our ancient skills as hunter-gatherers.

In this Kafkaesque nightmare world, only the fittest will survive. Every so often when humanity becomes too fat and lazy, fate deals her trump card and serves up a disaster of epic proportions. Until then, we will just get fatter and slower.
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Old 08-20-08, 02:14 PM   #15
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In the post apocalyptic future, no one will have a sedentary lifestyle. I'll be living in the debris field 12 klicks north of Old Los Angeles. Roving tribes of outlaws armed with spears and rocks will keep people moving while they look for cover and concealment. Restaurants will be a thing of the past as we hone our ancient skills as hunter-gatherers.

In this Kafkaesque nightmare world, only the fittest will survive. Every so often when humanity becomes too fat and lazy, fate deals her trump card and serves up a disaster of epic proportions. Until then, we will just get fatter and slower.
Ah - Sounds liek the book The Road.... I listened to it on my ipod.. Fabulous.
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Old 08-20-08, 02:41 PM   #16
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Somehow, the incidence of smoking in the US of A has been reduced rather amazingly. How did this happen? Are there any clues in how this happened that might apply to obesity and the sedentary lifestyle?
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Old 08-20-08, 03:02 PM   #17
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I was wondering if there were any thoughts or ideas on how you get folks to change their sedentary and other habits, which seem to lead to unhealthy lifestyles, obesity, and a host of related physical conditions and diseases.

Any personal stories?

Think about this on a societal level. Is there anything that leaders in health, government, schools, etc., could do to make a real difference?
I don't think problems like this get solved on a societal level, at least not by deliberate action. Effective actions take place at the grass roots -- higher-level policy aimed at social change has severe limitations, and when it's effective, it's usually as a result of mandating (or prohibiting) certain behaviors (like, to use an example from the fairly recent past of the USA, not allowing people of certain races/genders/religions equal access to schools). The hearts and minds follow afterwards, if at all.

OTOH, I suppose what you're talking about doesn't necessarily have to be a "hearts and minds" solution, although we'd probably agree it's better that way. In theory, you could mandate exercise, I suppose, the way that our government tends to mandate things, by making noncompliance painful. In practice, I don't ever see that happening in the USA. So...back to the hearts and minds, I think that works best on a more local level.

One thing that's different between the US and some other countries is access to organized physical activity. In school, students have mandatory physical education; those who want to go beyond it can compete on sports teams. But once out of high school, organized competitive sports is mostly the province of the elites. Local recreation departments have organized activities, but in most activities these are geared towards youth -- often exclusively so. What's an adult to do? Pick-up leagues and company softball teams don't provide much in the way of exercise, if the truth be told. Bicycling is actually a bit of an anomaly, since there are group rides typically organized by bike shops -- other sports or activities tend not to have even that level of organization. Hiking clubs are about the only other thing I can think of that are fairly common. So, I think an important first step is creating opportunities for participation in organized activities for adults. Without that, every adult who tries to be active is a sort of "lone ranger", trying to do it all on their own. With organized activities, you have easier access to activities, plus a social aspect that will make it attractive to more people.
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Old 08-20-08, 03:32 PM   #18
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I agree with lil brown bat as regards opportunities for exercise.

In our community, there are a lot of efforts to make exercise and activities more available to the general public. Some examples:

1. Wonderful bicycling and walking trails throughout the community - miles and miles - the Denver area has over 600 miles, and my suburb has about 40-50 miles of trails. These are used extensively by many, many folks. These are beautiful trails through open space and one can go literally miles and miles without corssing a street.

2. The "Silver Sneakers" program for those on Medicare (and paid for by some Medicare supplemental insurance companies). While I personally find the activities too basic for my own benefit, they are wonderful for those folks who haven't exercised much or at all, and they are extremely popular. They are offered in more basic forms for aquaerobics, weights, movement and the like. About 2 steps up from a nursing home exercise class, but they do work.

3. Access to rec centers and the like. My wife (70) participates in a more advanced aquaerobics class, among othe things. She also does some bicycling. We have a great rec center within walking distance (1 mile) of my home, and another just down the trail. That is where I swim, and use some weights, etc.

But, despite myriads of opportunities, I still have neighbors who do no exercise, and one across the street who is proud of it!

I do think that public messages and articles on TV and the newspaper are helpful, also.

Our Denver Post has a "fitness section" every Monday, and it is read, and it features activities for a variety od ages and skill levels.

However, Colorado is rated among the top in fitness in the nation.

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Old 08-20-08, 04:19 PM   #19
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I disagree strongly with the Physical Education proponents. I had mandatory PE throughout school and it is crap. I'm not saying it couldn't be made better, but PE as it has been is not the answer.

1. It propagates a negative self image to those who are in the low end of the class. (yes, this is a problem in other classes, but very few are experiencing long term health problems due to doing poorly in physics.) It took years for a shower at a health club to be ok after my school experiences as a clyde.

2. The people teaching these classes are often the wrong people entirely. The coaches usually only want to coach, not actually educate students. PE should be about health, not sports. The competitive aspect turned me off of exercise for years.

3. IMO, PE should be about helping students find physical activity they enjoy, understanding their own body's nutritional/exercise needs, and then helping them to get the most out of both. This should be both theoretical and practical education. (My opinion as an educator.)

As you can probably tell, I am not thrilled with my 10 years of PE and I shudder that my children now have to go through it. It is completely possible that PE can make unhealthy kids even less healthy adults.
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Old 08-20-08, 04:36 PM   #20
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The Sedentary (and obese) Society - How Does That Get Changed?

I was wondering if there were any thoughts or ideas on how you get folks to change their sedentary and other habits, which seem to lead to unhealthy lifestyles, obesity, and a host of related physical conditions and diseases.

Any personal stories?

Think about this on a societal level. Is there anything that leaders in health, government, schools, etc., could do to make a real difference?

What made a difference (if anything) in your own life?

I do believe the US of A is the fattest and most sedentary nation in the world, and in history. I am making the assumption that being the fattest and least exercised is not a good thing.

Ideas, folks? Or is this simply a lost cause? Or, perhaps it just doesn't matter?
When someone who hasn't seen me for a while, runs into me, and asks how I did it, I have gone from around 260 to around 210, I tell them there are three techniques that really work, and work well,

1) Throw out the TV
2) Sell the car.
3) Never buy food that needs to travel more then 100km to get to you.

First the TV, the average person sees over 10,000 Television commercials a year, well over half of those are for food products that are highly processed, often with large amounts of sugar (often high fructose corn syrup) and fat ( often hydrogenated and saturated trans-fats). This advertising is intended to make you go out and buy these foods, and consume them, it's a double whammy though, in that television watching does not encourage one to move for long periods of time.

The car, cars encourage one to sit in a steel box as the world goes by, first your not really moving, second food establishments selling the same kinds of food found in television advertising, with drive through windows, encourage one to eat in the car. Automobile traffic also increases stress levels considerably. Stress that one does not get walking, cycling or taking public transit.

Food, it's abysmal how far some processed food travels these days, food that comes from local sources, encourages local farmers, who are investing back into the local economy, it's packaged the way God (or nature, depending on your belief system) intended. Even if you process it for consumption, you control how much sugar and/or fat is added in processing, and how much processing is done to it.
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Old 08-20-08, 04:52 PM   #21
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Some signs of progress??

Are these some signs of progress?

I can now go to McDonald's and get a salad rated by food expeerts as "excellent."

I can go to Wendy's and McD's and get a grilled chicken wrap.

McD's features a low-fat fruit yogurt for $1.00

Many TV stations feature spots on activity, health and nutrition, an there are frequently shots of folks with large jiggling stomachs hanging out over their shirt and blouses.

Do these help? Or are they window dressiing?
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Old 08-20-08, 05:26 PM   #22
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"The Sedentary Society - How Does That Get Changed?"

$10 a gallon gas? lol $4 a gallon gas seemed to get more people out and about on foot or bike in this town.
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Old 08-20-08, 05:34 PM   #23
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Dnvr, call me cynical but I put this type of stuff in the same category in the recent "being green" fad. It's just big business and local TV trying to be trendy and cashing in.

Until a wider percentage of their customer base DEMAND a healthier menu, big business will continue to offer up half-hearted gimmicks and marketing campaigns to get 20/20 and Dateline off their back. In the mean time, if double qtr pounders are what's selling, they'll continue to box them up.

While people continue to believe that six-pack abs can come from a pill, or that tight tushy can be had for only 3 easy payments of $19.95, we won't see any significant progress.
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Old 08-20-08, 05:47 PM   #24
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When I was a child, we didn't have TVs or computers. My mom stayed home and we were shooed out of the house in the morning so she could get some work done (or whatever). We weren't allowed back home until dinner. We spent our time running around, playing on bikes and skates. We ran all around the neighborhood from one block to the next.

Fast forward, present time. Kids have their own TVs, computers, gameboys/Xbox/Ninetendo etc, both parents work so kids are either in child care and not allowed outside or at home, inside waiting for a parent to return. Kids aren't allowed to run from block to block because it ain't safe. All sports are now organized, nothing is random, pick up or made up as in my day.

Is technology good or bad? Clearly technology is responsible for a more sedentary lifestyle. Who wants to leave home when there's 150 channels to watch, a computer and game systems. Parents aren't home to make sure kids get outside and when parens are home, the last thing they want to do is watch their kids play.

Denver I think it's a bad situation. I have no idea how it's going to change. Schools here no longer have money for PE and sports. If you can't qualify for football or basketball, you sit on the side line. The only way you get into sports is if the parents is willing to pay. Most here have little money for that.

I have always been active. I like playing sports and being outside. Alot of kids nowadays have no exposure to nature. I am a docent for The Irvine Ranch Conversancy and lead hikes and mtb rides on open space land and kids are bored. Seeing a redtail fly or a tarantula cross the road is just not their cup of tea. Schools are barely teaching the basics so this outside stuff is not on the agenda (even though it is offered free through the IRC).

How to change it? Parents take away the tvs, computers and game systems. Force the kids outside. Send them to camp each year and get them enrolled in naturalist programs. Parents who take an interest have kids who take an interest. If biking is not someone's cup of tea, walk. Everyone can walk.

As to food frankly I struggle with that as well. If given a choice I generally choice the least healthy option. I know I should only erat small portions of lean meat, lots of veggies and fruit. I however don't. I didn't grow up on junk food so came to it late in life. Kids start out on those Happy Meals. Good luck taking it away. It generally takes a serious health risk (like heart disease, diabetes etc) to make a lifestyle change and even then...
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Private docent led mountain bike rides through Limestone Canyon. Go to letsgooutside.org and register today! Also available: hikes, equestrian rides and family events as well as trail maintenance and science study.

Last edited by Pamestique; 08-20-08 at 05:50 PM.
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Old 08-20-08, 05:51 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by dscheidt View Post
simplest, easiest solution? Ban free parking.
And raise gas to $10/gal!
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Private docent led mountain bike rides through Limestone Canyon. Go to letsgooutside.org and register today! Also available: hikes, equestrian rides and family events as well as trail maintenance and science study.
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