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Commentary: 11 seconds of exercise won't do it

by the ALBUQUERQUE (N.M.) JOURNAL on March 02, 2014 1:29 AM

More than one in three people in the United States is obese, the category beyond overweight, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers.

In New Mexico, at least one person in 10 — about 11 percent of the state’s population — has diabetes, strongly linked to being sedentary and overweight.

A new study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings suggests an answer as to why, and it has little to do with Washington, D.C., policy or medical insurance coverage.

Lead author Edward C. Archer, who studies nutrition and obesity at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, tracked the movements of 2,600 adults age 20 to 74 to see what they did all day.

It amounted to not a lot.

Obese women averaged about 11 seconds a day of vigorous exercise; men and women of normal weight less than two minutes a day. Archer says it’s a real commentary on how lifestyles have changed, with people today “living their lives from one chair to another.”

“We didn’t realize we were that sedentary,” he says. “There are some people who are vigorously active, but it’s offset by the huge number of individuals who are inactive.

“I think they’re living the typical life. They drive their children to school, they sit at a desk all day long, they may play some video games and they go to sleep.”

And while a cornerstone of Obamacare has been expanding access to preventive care, that alone won’t tip the scales, as it were, on the serious health effects — and costs — of 11 seconds of exercise a day.

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