This may seem like a bold statement and your right, it is, and I have good reason. Many of us in the USA squirm when the topic of physical fitness starts. We're a nation of fatties, let's all face reality people. We're just a bunch of fatty mic-fattsters blubbering around. Over twenty years of a society increasingly focused on convenience and fast food hasn't done anything good for us.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and prevention more than one-third of U.S. adults (35.7%) and approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2—19 years are obese .. Yes I said obese, that's not even overweight statistics. Nobody wants to see those. Sure maybe I'm biased being in the military where physical fitness is a factor but these are some of my top reasons that you won't get to see the same, sights, sounds, and people that you would see if you were physically fit.
Convenience, The Big Mac Psychology & The Enablers
I understand weight can be a sensitive topic.In the military we have yet another acronym, (BLUF) or Bottom Line Up Front. Here is my BLUF- You will not find any sensitivity here. By no means am I saying that I will be ignorant but ignoring problems will not solve them. This leads me to my first point.
When you have spent over 20 years in the snow covered state of Pennsylvania getting into a car with, heated seats and warm air is definitely convenient. You don't have to walk miles and miles through inhospitable conditions and risk frostbite, dehydration, or hypothermia. When you live in Florida and its 120 degrees outside same thing, its wonderful to have the conveniences we do today.
But when is a brisk 60 degrees outside and you want to go to the post office 4 blocks away what do you do? You get in your car, drive there, and drive back. Why? So you can have more time to do other things like watch tv, sit around on your computer, or go out with your friends. Even more than that, what are you supposed to do, walk and look like a weirdo? It's sad but true. If you have ever seen someone you know walking over a bridge in your neighborhood not in workout clothes what would you think (probably that their car broke down). Why else would they just be walking? For most of us, I think we can admit to falling on convenience when it just isn't necessary.
Physical inactivity and obesity are two of several factors linked to type 2 diabetes, according to the CDC. Being physically inactive can do a myriad of bad things for you, not just cause diabetes. Physically inactive individuals, those who do not exercise or engage in physical activities are prone to the following:
Areas where residents are most likely to be active when not at work are the West Coast, Colorado, Minnesota and parts of the Northeast. States where physical inactivity rates are 23.2% or lower in more than 70% of counties are California, Colorado, Hawaii, Minnesota, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. Do you notice anything interesting about these states? Maybe its the fact that many of them like Oregon, Vermont, and Washington have some of the most "activity centered tourism" in the country. They offer hiking, white water rafting, trekking, camping, skydiving, horseback riding; I think you get the point I'm trying to make here. The "adventure states" are the more fit states, funny huh.
The Big Mac Psychology
We have already established that overall activity levels in the country aren't very good........."we are lazy." Onto contributing factor #2 of fatness in America. I give you exhibit (B), the American Fast Food Industry. I am not saying that they are the evil superpower slipping fries down our throat while we sleep. Society is half the problem but here are some things to think about. Statistics are provided by the Pew Research Center, Center of Disease Control & Prevention, National Restaurant Association, and others.
The XL Enablers
One clear example of how large we are becoming is simply looking at our clothing sizes. Today two thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. People stuck in the dressing room tend to get cranky when they are forced to face reality and can't fit into any of the clothing at the store.
Companies understand this isn’t going to be good for business. In response, they’ve reacted to our exploding waistlines by what marketers call vanity sizing. It's not a new phenomenon, but according to a story on NPR, it’s getting more and more out of control.
According to Wikipedia, Vanity sizing, also known as (size inflation) is defined as the action of ready-to-wear clothing of the same nominal size becoming larger over time. Vanity sizing tends to occur in places where clothing sizes are not standardized, such as the United States. Although, within the United States it occurs far more frequently in women's apparel than in men's, partly due to the widespread and far earlier adoption of standardized measurement for men's apparel for military uniforms (where, for example, a pair of trousers with a 32" waist and a 32" inseam must be labeled as such regardless of who made it).
The bad news is that our society doesn't want to face the truth. Instead of caring about the public's health as usual money is king here. It would be better to stop overall increased sizing for clothes in this country. Studies have shown that by making U.S. clothing sizes larger, we are growing into our "fat clothing". University of Michigan marketing professor Aradhna Krishna has studied how labels impact how much we eat. She explained it by saying, "It's not a question of being lied to, it's a question of do you want to be lied to."
Re- Framing the Travel Experience
There are dozens of first hand examples that I could give you to support the fact that adventure travel requires you to be fit. I could talk to you until I'm blue in the face but hopefully this has given you something to think about. The fact is, anyone can travel from on place to another, but that's not adventuring or exploring. You get nothing out of sitting in an airport in Malaysia and an airport in New York.
Travel is about experience, and experience involves action. Getting out there and going were few have been to see what few have seen. Prepare for the risks, and yes, there will be risks. Part of that preparation is giving yourself the tools to get there by staying physically fit. Think about it, you want to come back from your overseas trip with more than jet lag and a souvenir, right?.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2004-2012)Physical Inactivity Estimates
Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults. (2010). Coronary artery risk
development in young adults. Retrieved July 26, 2010, from http://www.cardia.dopm.uab.edu/index.htm.
Health State. (2007). The correlation between fast food and obesity in America. Retrieved April, 13 2010, from http://www.healthstate.info/the-correlation-between-fast-food-and-obesity-in-america/.
Maclay, K. (2009). Linking fast food proximity to obesity. Retrieved April 13, 2010, from http://berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2009/03/04_obesity.shtml.
Murray, B. (2001). Fast-food culture serves up super-size Americans. Retrieved April 13, 2010, from http://www.apa.org/monitor/dec01/fastfood.aspx.
National Bureau of Economic Research. (n.d.). Do fast food restaurants contribute to obesity? Retrieved April 13, 2010, from http://www.nber.org/aginghealth/2009no1/w14721.html.
Pew Research Center. (2006). Eating more; Enjoying less. Retrieved April 13, 2010, from http://pewresearch.org/pubs/309/eating-more-enjoying-less.
Science Daily. (2005). 15-year study shows strong link between fast food, obesity and insulin resistance. Retrieved April 13, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/01/050111152135.htm.