Promoting an Active Lifestyle while “Trekking the Planet”

Sandy provides details about one of the goals of the Trekking the Planet expedition.

Part of the mission of Trekking the Planet is to promote an active lifestyle as we undertake a series of hikes during our 14-month journey. In fact, over 500 of the 71,000 miles we plan to cover on our trip will be by foot during one of our 11 planned treks. Part of our motivation is that our active example will encourage children, teens and adults to find ways to incorporate a minimum of 30 minutes (for adults) to 60 minutes (for children and teens) of vigorous exercise into their everyday activities.

Many people are aware of the trend towards obesity and sedentary lifestyles throughout the western world. Duke University reported in the online article entitled Childhood Obesity: A Growing Crisis that over the past 25 years, the rate of obesity has doubled for children ages six to 11 and has tripled for teens. Today, about 10 percent of two to five-year-olds and 15 percent of six to 19-year-olds are overweight. Part of the solution, they say, is daily physical activity. In their Diabetes Public Health Resource, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that Type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents appears to be a sizable and growing problem in the U.S. They go on to link the low level of physical activity among young people as a major contributor to this trend.

A Harvard Medical School article entitled Leisure Time Exercise puts the current trends into context:

“As recently as the 19th century, 30% of all the energy used in the American workplace was provided by human muscle power; today, the percentage is minuscule. In most ways, the transition from an agricultural economy to an industrial society to today’s information age has been a great boon. But something has also been lost.”

The article goes on to state that 29% of adults live entirely sedentary lives and another 46% exercise but don’t get enough physical activity. That means only a quarter of all Americans get the exercise they need. Besides lowering the risk of obesity and diabetes, regular exercise decreases blood pressure and cholesterol levels. The net result is a lower likelihood of heart disease and stroke, the first and third leading causes of death in the U.S.

Overall, it is clear that those who exercise have a better chance of living longer, have a better quality of life and spend less time (and money) at the doctor’s office. So what is the solution? A UK organization called KidsExercise provides some strong resources for all ages. Their article, How Much Exercise do Kids Need?, breaks fitness into three parts: strength, endurance and flexibility. It is their recommendation, as well as the recommendation of the U.S. CDC and other leading organizations, that children aged two and over get a minimum of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise every day.

As for adults, the Harvard Leisure Time Exercise article recommends at least 30 minutes of walking every day as long as it is reasonably brisk and it is performed nearly every day. They say walkers should aim to cover about 2 miles a day during those 30 minutes. The great thing about walking is that everyone can do it, it doesn’t require special equipment or facilities and it rarely leads to injury. They also state if you can’t get all 30 minutes in at once, you can break it up into two sessions of 15 minutes and still get most of the benefits.

So we invite you to get your shoes on and consider joining us in a walk of your own as we “trek the planet”.

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