Study: We’re just too lazy

By Noelle Phillips
McClatchy Newspapers

You do it.

Your co-workers do it.

Heck, even Russ Pate does it. And he runs marathons.

“You send an e-mail to someone two doors down at the office,” Pate said. “Before the Internet took over you would walk down there and talk to them.”

A short stroll down the hall won’t cure sedentary habits or obesity. But it’s a start, said Pate, who is an exercise science professor at the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health.

And we need to get started.

Business Week’s Website ranked the country’s laziest states, based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and other government statistics. The survey averages the amount of time people who are 15 and older spend on various activities. Southern states made the top three – Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas.

But some of’s conclusions might raise eyebrows. Do South Carolinians, for example, really sleep an average of 8 hours and 42 minutes a day and work just 3 hours and 26 minutes?

OK, so 15-year-olds and retirees might skew some of the numbers.

But there is a serious message here.

And there are people who are serious about changing our habits.

One of those is Amy Splittgerber, executive director of Eat Smart, Move More SC, an organization working to prevent childhood obesity.

Part of what the group does is encourage families to turn off the television and get moving. Eat Smart, Move More sets up community groups to work with schools, churches and other organizations to change habits and environments. For example, churches can rethink snack time during Sunday school. And cities can build sidewalks and increase police presence so families feel safe in letting their children walk to school.

“We can’t just educate people or create a brochure or have a contest,” she said. “Those things haven’t worked for a generation. Let’s change these environments we live in, socialize in and pray in.”

Changing habits also should include getting up from the work desk throughout the day to get water, visit a co-worker or walk a lap around the parking lot. Scientists are learning more and more about the importance of moving about during the day in addition to 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise, Pate said.

“It’s just very bad for our bodies,” he said about sitting all day.

The nation as a whole is on the trend of gaining weight and sitting around.

“There’s a lot of bad to go around,” Pate said.