The U.S. Has a Serious Motivation Problem

Man Napping on a Couch, sleep, sweatpants

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Step away from the couch, and slowly put down that double cheeseburger before somebody gets hurt. And no, there isn’t a sudden shortage of burgers — the problem is more lack of motivation than lack of fatty foods.

According to a recent report by the Wall St. Journal, the number of “totally sedentary” Americans has risen to an all-time high since 2007. So, what’s the actual damage? Well, around 83 million Americans, according to the article, did not participate in any physical activity over the past year. 

The physical activities that the study used to figure out their amount of movement included everything from soccer to stretching, so no, you don’t have to be a professional athlete to qualify as getting a workout in. If 83 million Americans lack the motivation to move, that means the numbers break down to about 1 in 4 Americans who did not do any activities listed on this list in the last year.  Sounds like a serious problem.

Yes, it is completely understood that not everyone can have motivation to workout all the time. But 1 in 4 Americans over the age of 6 going a whole year without physical activity has become the new norm. This new norm also proves to be a new extreme, because the numbers even shocked the researchers who were involved in the study. “We feel confident, in a sad way, that this is the largest number (of inactivity) we’ve ever seen,” Tom Cove, chief executive of the Sports and Fitness Industry Association told WSJ.

It is pretty clear that a lot of Americans are inactive, but what are the actual effects of this extreme lack of motivation? According to a study conducted by Florida Atlantic University, the results are much more harmful than we ever could have imagined.

“Lack of physical activity accounts for 22 percent of coronary heart disease, 22 percent of colon cancer, 18 percent of osteoporotic fractures, 12 percent of diabetes and hypertension, and 5 percent of breast cancer,” Charles H. Hennekens, M.D., Dr.P.H. said. “Furthermore, physical inactivity accounts for about 2.4 percent of U.S. healthcare expenditures or approximately $24 billion a year.”

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These sats show that inactivity is a major issue that can lead to life changing diseases. The problem, however, remains that many Americans would rather watch TV than walk, and are more willing to ignore the issues that could come from this inactive lifestyle. “Unfortunately, most Americans prefer prescription of pills to proscription of harmful lifestyles such as physical inactivity,” Hennekens said.

The study also suggests that physicians write out specific exercises for their patients to do, so that life threatening diseases can be avoided. Unfortunately, for many, it is too late.

According the WSJ, the most worrisome stat in the Physical Activity Council report is the flat and downward trends of physical activity among younger Americans. By challenging children or promoting a balance of technology and sports, there may be hope for the 2016 study. According to the Wall St. Journal, there needs to be an option for the children who want to play sports, but do not want to play travel sports.

Run, walk, stretch, have fun, and be active. Summer is almost over, enjoy every last minute of the nice weather. Go outside, and change that stat. 

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