Showing Our Age
I read this article on NPR (National Public Radio) about how people of a certain age, which includes me, are less fit than their counterparts of two decades ago. How can this be? With all the advances in knowledge and availability of information, how can this group of people have missed the boat?
Actually, we haven't missed the boat on everything; incidence rates of COPD and lung cancer are less. Unfortunately, hypertension and diabetes have gone up! Why? We are less physically active than we were two decades ago. We sit in our cars, socialize via computer and are expected to email from our desks rather than walk down the hall to discuss something with a colleague.
Employers think that walking to actually talk to someone wastes time and therefore money. If their employees are getting rounder as a result with increased utilization of healthcare services and time off due to health issues, have they really saved anything in the long run?
I have a relative who circles the parking lot looking for a spot closest to the shop door. Some people have to do so for health reasons and rightfully have blue badges to park in designated spots. Sometimes it's pouring down rain and walking from the far end of the car park is really not fun. What about all those other days? What about parking the car at the furthest part of the lot and adding a few extra steps?
I work on the third floor of a large office tower. I use the stairs at least five times a day rather than the elevator. It isn't exactly a substitute for the gym, but it's something that helps maintain leg strength and some cardiac conditioning.
Modern conveniences can be a treat, but like ice cream, should be enjoyed in moderation. How can you encourage your patients to increase their activity in small, but perhaps meaningful ways? Imagine the impact on quality of life and health costs if everyone were as active as two decades ago.