I was listening to a podcast a few days ago, and the host asked his guest why he thought obesity rates had gone up so significantly and why so many people are out of shape.
The discussion dove into the convenience and availability of fast food and the fact that people are spending more time seated at a desk at their jobs and on their butts while they commute in their car.
I can’t argue with these reasons.
But as I listened to the podcast host and his guest discuss this topic, it felt a bit too surface-level. The problem goes deeper than that.
The problem is comfort.
Over the last 70 years we have poured our physical and mental energies into trying to create comfort in our lives.
I think its fair to say that since World War II ended, most of our technological advances have focused on making everyday life easier.
Microwaves. iPhones. Drive-thru restaurants. Email. Commercial air travel. Amazon.com. We’ve even modified our food to make it easier to grow with as little intervention as possible.
We barely have to leave the house if we want something. We no longer have to work our bodies to grow or raise our own food — heck, we don’t even have to cook our own food if we don’t want to.
70 years ago — and in some cases even just 30 years ago — if you wanted something, you either had to get up, get out, and go get it, or you had to make it/build it/create it yourself. In many instances, your life depended on you physically working hard just to get the basics.
Convenience and comfort have dominated our thoughts and actions, and along the way, we as a society in total never committed to replacing the physical work that life demanded of us 70 years ago.
In my grandparents’ old photos, I rarely see an overweight person. Both of my grandfathers fought in WWII and were strapping young men, strong as all get-out, and worked hard with their bodies all their lives. And they both lived to be over 90 years old.
And now? Well, just last month, it was reported that life expectancy in the U.S. dropped for the second year in a row. The average life expectancy in the U.S. is 78.6 years, and nearly all of the top 10 leading causes of death — heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, stroke, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia, and kidney disease — can be attributed to poor physical fitness.
Ok, Ok. You get the point. So what’s THE point?
I realize this might sound a bit nostalgic and like I’m wishing for the “good ol’ days,” but that’s not the case. I love modern conveniences. I’m glad I no longer have to work to grow my own fruits and vegetables and raise my own meat and make my own clothes. I love ordering something off Amazon and getting it on my doorstep two days later.
But I am concerned that over the last 70 years or so, a vast majority of people replaced hard work for comfort without making it a point to supplement their daily routines with physical activities to keep their bodies healthy, fit and active. Now more than ever, we need the gym. We need exercise. We need physical fitness.
This, to me, is THE reason why more than 70 percent of the U.S. population is overweight and one-third is considered obese. This is why chronic, preventable diseases are killing us at younger and younger ages. This is why the term “dad bod” even exists.
It’s not simply because fast food is more available. It’s not simply because we sit at a computer for our job.