MOVING IN EVERYDAY LIFE
THE WESTERN MAN keeps getting fatter and fatter.
Although appearance and health has never been as important as today, we now in the Western world have never seen so many people with weight problems. Roughly estimated, we can say that 50 to 60% of the population in the western world is clearly overweight. So we can talk of an epidemic. Leader in this is the USA, but Europe follows this bad example closely, and is already well on their way in catching up.
WHAT ARE THE REASONS?
The causes for weight problems are often quit easy to identify, but unfortunately a lot harder harder to tackle. On average we eat too much and move / exercise too little. Staying slim and healthy is certainly not something that comes by itself. Today's modern man has so much comfort and luxury at its disposal and food within reach, at all times, that he consciously has to life. Most people don’t and we see the result of that all around us.
OBESITY, being OVERWEIGHT, what NOW?
When are you overweight? There are several criteria. We can look at the fat % of a body. An average healthy male has approximately 15% fat, a woman has a somewhat higher percentage due to hormonal differences, around 25%. Top athletes are often very slim at cab have 5% body fat, some even a bit lower, women are sometimes around 10% body fat. Further reducing this percentage is unwise and dangerous.
Another measure that's been used a lot is BMI, body mass index, for this you take the weight in kilograms and height in meters. Divide that weight by height squared. (= Length x length)
For example 1.75m and 65kg. This gives 65 / (1.75 x 1.75 = 3.0625) = 21.2 BMI
A healthy BMI is between 20 and 25. Below 20 you are underweight, over 25 overweight, over 30 you're clearly too heavy for good health. BMI is a very rough measure, as an average for an entire population it says a lot, but it says a lot less about an individual. 2 people with the same BMI can have a very different body composition. So for an individual you have to look at more then just BMI.
Personally, I have a very simple rule: our skeleton is the foundation of our body and gives our body its base shape. Our body therefore needs to have the overall shape of our skeleton. When this shape starts to disappear you are getting overweight.
An other official "rule" is waistline, a woman should have a waist circumference not exceeding 88 cm and a man should stay below 102 cm. Again you have to look at the total picture. Take two extreme examples, one of 1.55 meter man and one of 2.03 m. This is obviously quite a difference, so just looking at your belly circumference would be a bit silly.
Do we take the the stairs or the elevator?
We can take the car or is the bicycle not a better option?
We can give our children a ball to play outdoors, or let them sit behind the computer with a bag of chips?
Are we going for a walk during lunchtime or are we going to take a fat snack in the cantina?
Those are all choices, most of them small on their own, but put together they make a big difference. Being aware of these choices is often an important first step to good health. Let's look at a few examples in numbers to see what they mean.
Suppose we, instead of taking the car, use the bike three times a week. And suppose that every ride is 2.5 km, which makes 5 km back and forth. Per year that would be 5 x 3 x 52km = 780 km. (km x rides x weeks)
Suppose we take once a day a little further walk (walk the dog), say 1km. This is in a year 7 x 1km x 52 = 364 km.
Suppose you take (at work) daily 2 times the stairs takes instead of taking the elevator. Let's say 5 floors every time, per year this would be. 2 x 5 x 5 floors 48 weeks = 2400 floors per year. A large flat is 10 levels. So 2400 floors makes 240 times a big flat on an annual basis.
These are three simple very small examples, you can probably do a lot more if you want to.
Energy in minus energy out = weight gain or loss
this old saying is of course always true. But I must say, does not cover the whole truth, if you're active enough, all energy you take in will be used, and if you don’t really overeat you won’t be gaining weight. Think of cyclists or marathon skaters, if you look what they need to eat to just keep their weight most people would be amazed.
Nowadays for many people it's not so the taking energy in, but more the energy out that causes overweight. They simply should be more active and do more exercise in any form and their trouble weight wise would not exist.
For those people it is not their food intake that is the problem but the lack of exercise they get in every day life.
That exercise is not so much doing sports, which would be fine of course, but more just moving in general. That way, like stated above, you can often easily through many brief moments in a day do a lot if you put them all together. Like I mentioned above think about taking the bike for short rides instead of the car, walk a bit further down the street with the dog, take the stairs instead of the elevator, get out of the public transport a stop earlier and walk the rest, or park the car a little further away when you travel by car, use your lunch hour for a walk. etc.