We are the 3.5 percent!
A RECENT NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLE REALLY CAUGHT OUR ATTENTION: THE STORY FOCUSES ON RECENT STUDIES THAT REVEALED THAT ONLY 3.5 PERCENT OF ADULT AMERICANS PERFORM 150 MINUTES OR MORE OF MODERATE EXERCISE PER WEEK. WE ARE THE 3.5 PERCENT!
"Participants in the study say they've heard the public health message -- loud and clear -- that exercise in any amount and in any form is good for them," Brent Holten said. "The researchers discovered that people know that exercise is good for them and that they should do it. Yet they don't."
The Times article reveals that a study using accelerometers that measure actual movement, rather than relying on self-reporting by participants, show dismal results. In this study, only 3.5 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 59 do the minimum amount of physical activity recommended by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: 150 minutes a week of moderate activity.
Researchers are now looking at the reasons why people chose, or chose not, to exercise. A University of Georgia study assessed people's moods during exercise, asking them how good or bad they felt as the intensity of their workout varied. Some people actually feel their best when they surpass their ventilatory threshold -- the point when you're breathing so hard that it's hard to talk. For others, that's too extreme and turned them off from exercise.
The researchers discovered a few clues that are important for us to remember in our everyday workouts:
Focus on the peak and the ending
People remember two parts of a workout: the peak, when the exercise is most intense, and the end. Which brings us to...
… Cool-downs are critical
Scientists recruited volunteers who exercised for 20 minutes at levels they reported as unpleasant. In one session, the subjects had a five-minute cooling down period afterward, which immediately changed their moods because it felt pleasant. In the other session, the subjects stopped exercising, without a cool-down. A week later, the researchers asked their subjects which of the two workouts they would repeat, and by a ratio of two to one, participants said they would repeat the one with the pleasant ending.
Do what feels good
Rather than focus on the duration or intensity of our workouts, we should focus on doing exercise that makes us feel good. "People like to do things that make them feel better, and they avoid things that make them feel worse," one researcher concluded. "The idea is for them to have the motivation to exercise again tomorrow."