There was a time when I was really into Jane Fonda. It had nothing to do with “Barbarella,” or “Cat Ballou,” either—it all had to do with another fantastic role she had: aerobics instructor (I grew up in the 80s, after all).
See, my mother owned one of Fonda’s exercise tapes and instead of asking for cartoons, I’d ask for the tape. Constantly. I would gear up and mimic everything Jane did. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be like her? She looked like she was having a blast rocking out to fast-paced music and legwarmers.
It didn’t occur to me that I was exercising; it only occurred to me that I was having fun.
Clearly, I was smart for a 5-year-old. I grew up in a time when moving or dancing or sports or dare I say it—playing—was normal, as well as entertaining.
As a kid, I rarely sat in front of the TV. When I was bored and asked my parents what I could do, their response was always the same: “Go play outside.”
Times have changed. And it’s becoming rather dangerous.
The lack of exercise both children and adults are getting is so minimal that it’s actually become a pandemic, causing nearly a tenth of deaths worldwide. It’s killing as many people as smoking.
According to a series of articles published in British medical journal The Lancet, a whopping 80 percent of youngsters don’t get enough exercise, while nearly a third of adults fall short. The problem is even worse for girls and women, who are less active than boys and men.
I’ll be the first to admit I love food. (I even wrote about it last week.) I also love TV, so the temptation of hanging out at home after a long day at work versus hitting the gym is pretty great. But a quick trip to the gym or taking a walk not only allows me to continue with the food eating and the TV watching—my favorite activities—but it also gives me a mental boost. Not to mention it helps keep me alive.
Inactivity is fatal, researchers warn. Lack of exercise is tied to worldwide killers such as heart disease, diabetes and breast and colon cancer.
And just a little effort would go a long way: If physical inactivity rates were to go down by even 10 to 20 percent worldwide, researchers say, it could save between a half-million and 1.3 million lives each year. It could also raise global life expectancy by almost a year.
So please, tell your kids to play outside. Take a walk. Dance around. Take the stairs. Or, better yet, maybe Jane Fonda will come out with a new exercise video. I think she’s due for a comeback.