Vigorous exercise may not be on the top of everyone’s daily agenda. However, a recent study has shown that on average clinically obese women only get one hour of vigorous exercise a year, let alone during one day, whilst obese men only get slightly more with 3.6 hours a year.
The finding has come as a surprise to researchers (despite the modern day sedentary lifestyle often discussed in the media) especially given the fact that this was not the primary purpose of the study. It was instead created in order to discover new ways of finding out how much exercise people get.
Researchers assessed the data from a 2005-2006 U.S government survey that used an accelerometer to track the weight, diet, and sleep patterns of almost 2,600 adults, and offered a glimpse as to how much they exercised.
Edward Archer, a research fellow with the Nutrition Obesity Research Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, noted that the findings showed that: ‘the vast majority [of people] are not moving at all’. This is not due to a deliberate sedentary lifestyle but a ‘typical life’ Archer states most people are living. One in which driving and sitting at a desk all day, despite being necessary functional activities, contribute to the statistic in which one in three Americans are classed as obese.
However, the study has been appraised for its limited definition of ‘vigorous exercise’, which it defines as fat burning exercises such as jogging. John Jakicic, chair of the department of health and physical activity at the University of Pittsburgh, also cautions that the terminology is not based on a person’s fitness level; specifically because walking can be classed as ‘vigorous’ for very obese people.
Yet, Archer and Jakicic agree on the necessity to encourage obese people to undertake multiple, short periods of exercise, instead of traditional approaches to exercise. Archer suggests methods such as ‘standing rather than sitting’ and ‘walking rather than taking your car’; changes that may appear small, but actually ‘have huge impacts on [ones] health over time’.