The Obesity Epidemic and Physical Activity

To understand why obesity has been running rampant in our society, we must understand the roots of it and why it is prevailing. Today, we see a new fitness club chain popping up on every commercial street corner, yet obesity rates are higher than ever. There are two major factors that contribute to obesity: over-nutrition and under-expenditure. Portion sizes are larger than ever and eating is always part of entertainment. Decreased daily expenditure is a result of transportation, manual labor, and entertainment changes. Humans evolved by living in a world of scarcity. To survive, they developed the habit of eating everything that tasted good whenever they could find it.  Early diets consisted of fruits, shoots, nuts, tubers, and vegetation–all low in calories and took constant calorie burning just to find the nourishment. Fruits were highly desirable, so we learned to seek fructose and glucose (sugar). I guess you could say fruit was the very first “guilty pleasure.” When meat finally came along, humans increased in physical size (along with our brains) and we became a muscular race. 

The point: our bodies evolved in an environment where food was scarce and movement was required. We now find ourselves in an environment where food is abundant and movement is optional. 

Physical activity is no longer a must for us to survive as a race. We sit in a desk, collect the paycheck, and then go home and sit in the recliner. Now…for some, this is not true. Are those people obese? Probably not. Some people don’t have the option and sitting in a desk is how a lot of people make a good living these days. Which is fine! We just have to make up for that sitting that we do! For my generation, it has been predicted that (on average) we will not live longer than our parents do. For all of human history, this has never happened. The average lifespan has always gone up. This is extremely alarming to me, and it should be to you, too! The amount of incidents of Type II diabetes already occurring are staggering for people my age. Physical activity plays an important role in all of this and cannot be downplayed. It is not enough to just eat healthier, although that is a great start. 30 minutes a day of physical activity has shown great improvements in body composition in sedentary individuals. This is ANY kind of physical activity! This is a great goal to start with if you are currently inactive. Those that get 1 hour or more of physical activity a day have shown even larger jumps. So, if you don’t have time to hit the gym every day, just start by getting that 30 minutes first. LEARN to LOVE being active. Most adults who are sedentary and/or obese had a negative experience associated with exercise at some point in their lives. If we can eliminate our hate for exercise, we can help push forward to slowing the inactivity and obesity epidemic. It doesn’t matter if you’re overweight or not; physical activity and exercise reduces the risk for all types of diseases! And not to mention it makes us happier by releasing our “happy hormones” into the brain!  

If eating healthy is a constant struggle, and does not seem to be changing anytime soon, start by being active. Get to that number of minutes a day and see how you feel. Having good nutrition is a close second place, but being fit and active always comes first. That may be a shock to some, but it’s true! In one of my professor’s words: “its better to be fit and fat, than to be unfit and skinny.” Most of the time, eating healthier will follow; just as it did for me. If you’re already active and doing well, you’re awesome; now set more goals! Never be satisfied. Find motivation in something or someone that you love and care for. I hope this inspires! 

Have a good rest of the week!

This weekend I will be piggy-backing off of this post with the next post!

Coming this weekend: Sugar and its role in childhood obesity.


Move to the beat of your own drum.


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