Monday, June 12, 2017

Want to get fit? Find a friend!

BWL Column
The News-Press, 6/8/2017
by Ken Gooderham

A new study was just issued on physical activity in America… and, of course, the news was not good. But if you look a little closer at a few of the findings, it’s possible to find a silver lining of sorts.

The study was the “Inactivity Pandemic” report for 2017, offered up by PHIT America, “a cause and campaign dedicated to increasing physical activity and fitness to improve the health of all Americans.” (PHIT stands for Personal Health Investment Today.)

 First, the bad news:

  • Physical inactivity is the fourth biggest killer worldwide… beating out obesity and sneaking up on high blood glucose (but still way behind high blood pressure).
  • Kids are becoming less active, thanks to a number of issues (and it’s not just technology or overly cautious parents). The PHIT group targets more activity in schools as one of its major goals, to help avoid earlier and more severe health issues as they age.
  • Income relates to activity… higher incomes equals higher activity while lower-income Americans are becoming more sedentary.
  • “Core” participants (3+ days a week) are dropping, while “casual” participants (at least one day a week) are dropping.
  • Physical education in schools makes a big difference… in keeping kids active outside of school and as they age, and in helping them learn while in school.
Here’s the glimmer of good news: When surveyed about what would get them more active, the Top 2 items people cited were having someone to be active with, followed by health and having more time/fewer commitments. (Better facilities were cited, but further down on the list.)

So, if you’re an active parent, make sure to have your kids join you in the fun. If you know someone who is interested in getting out and doing more, invite them to come along with you and see if you can jump-start the process. And if you’re the one who wants to get more active, work to find someone to share in that activity and see if you can start to make it a habit.

One thing that may help: If you look at the top activities for seriously active people, six of the top 10 and 11 of the top 20 are activities you can find in health clubs, etc. Look at the activities with the most growth recent, and health club items dominate.

So walking for fitness is still the top activity (and the easiest to do and the easiest on you), health clubs may offer you some motivation to get moving. (If nothing else, paying a monthly fee might get you moving to take advantage of it rather than wasting the money.)

One last bit of depressing new from the PHIT folks:
  • 10 million children are totally inactive.
  • 33 million children are not active to healthy standards.
  • Two-thirds of Americans are not active to healthy standards.
  • All of these trends are getting worse.

Walk this way

If this information inspires you to get up and go for a walk, good. But please walk in the proper direction.

For walkers and runners, that means facing traffic – particularly if you’re on a bike/walk lane or shoulders, in proximity to traffic. If you opt for a bike ride, then ride with traffic, almost without exception.

Why? Well, first it’s the law. More important, it’s safer for you.

Walking or running facing traffic lets you see what’s coming at you so you can adjust your course accordingly. Biking with traffic makes you more like a vehicle – and, thus, more likely to be seen by the bigger and faster vehicles you may have to contend with on the roads.

Ok, now get up and go for that walk.

Ready to ride or run?

Run? A few 5Ks ahead to keep you moving – Sugden Stride in Naples ( and the Summer Sizzler 5K in Cape Coral ( Want something shorter and more informal? Consider trying one of the 2-mile Fun Runs being offered by the Fort Myers Track Club. The next one is June 20 in Cape Coral, and you can sign up at

Ride? Critical Mass rides June 16 (Roll Estero at 7 p.m.), June 24 (Saturday Slow roll Fort Myers at 9 a.m.), an June 30 (Cape Coral at 7.30 p.m.). For night rides, lights are required; helmets recommend for all riders, and required for those age 16 or under. Details at

Both? The American Sprint triathlon/duathlon comes to Naples July 2 (, followed by the Englewood YMCA Sprint Tri in Englewood July 8 ( Also, registration is open for the Galloway Captiva Tri Sept. 9-10… spaces are limited and the kid’s races usually fill up first, so don’t miss out.

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Ken Gooderham writes this on behalf of BikeWalkLee, a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets in Lee County — streets that are designed, built, operated and maintained for safe and convenient travel for all users: pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Information, statistics and background online at

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