I came in from my morning three mile walk to be greeted by this e-mail headline: Most U.S. adults do not know exercise guidelines for preventing heart disease. I wasn’t shocked. A telephone survey from the Cleveland Clinic found that only 20 percent of U.S. adults knew that guidelines recommend they exercise at least 2.5 hours per week to prevent heart disease. In addition, 40 percent of the respondents said they exercised less than 2.5 hours per week. The Cleveland Clinic announced the results on February first in conjunction with the CDC’s American Heart Month.
As one who has exercised routinely since my teens, I always find it hard to understand why people don’t exercise more. I know the excuses. The telephone poll asked about barriers to exercising: 41 percent said “work obligations,” 37 percent said they were too tired to exercise, 28 percent listed family obligations and 14 percent said they were too out of shape to exercise. I understand. My wife does not exercise and never has. Her schedule is hectic; she has a long commute to work and works long hours every day. I do understand; I really do.
One of my favorite pastimes is people watching. When sitting around an airport waiting for a plane, I prefer to people watch. By casually observing, it seems evident that the Cleveland Clinic poll rings true. The prevalence of overweight people is really quite something. The overweight/diabetic crisis that we seem to be in stems from many causes – lack of routine exercise being an important one.
While heart disease still kills one in four Americans, regular, routine exercise and improved diet can make a significant difference. I do my part. However, it is incumbent upon all of us to recognize the importance of regular exercise and to encourage our family and friends to participate to the extent they can. As Dr. Steve Nissen of the Cleveland Clinic said, “Americans know exercise is important, but most don’t realize just how far a little exercise will go – potentially reducing the risk of dying from heart disease by as much as 40 to 50 percent. It’s worth making time for it.” I will continue to try to do my part. All of us committed to lowering cardiac-related disease should take routine exercise seriously and spread the gospel whenever and however we can.
As always, CFA invites your comments, suggestions and questions.