INACTIVITY kills! Perhaps even more shocking, inactivity kills roughly the same number of people annually as smoking. That's more than 5 million people every year.
Data from various global studies, including the World Health Organization, agree that inactivity is the fourth leading cause of death worldwide. That means that too large a percentage of the global population is not even achieving the modest minimum recommendations of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each day for five days a week.
This means that millions of lives could be saved every year if people simply reached the recommended minimum weekly target of 150 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity.
What is moderate-intensity physical activity?
Moderate-intensity physical activity is best defined as an activity that you can perform and still talk, but not sing, throughout the activity. For example, if you can walk at a good clip and can carry on a conversation, then you are engaging in moderate-intensity physical activity.
On the other hand, vigorous activity is best characterized as an activity that will have you so busy sucking up air, at best you'll be able to shout out only a few words between breaths.
Honestly, what's the solution? How do we get more people engaged and inspired to make a daily commitment to exercise?
One solution, I believe, that could be immediately beneficial is to focus on children. Most parents want the best for their children and are willing to make the necessary sacrifices to give them a leg up. Promoting family fitness and making it a priority will serve both the parent and the child.
Second, I think there should be an all-out public-service-announcement campaign, the same way we did with tobacco, but instead promoting moderate exercise and showing the health risks of inactivity. PSAs have significantly influenced public opinion about smoking; perhaps a campaign boosting the many benefits of moderate activity would have similar results.
Third, along with the three R's, schools have to make physical education a daily priority. It has long been proved that exercise improves mood, memory and many cognitive functions. Surely, adding short bouts of exercise in the classrooms throughout the day would have myriad benefits.