Is There Room on Your Couch For a Mouse?
In 1993 a new slang phrase emerged, one that has pushed kids and adults alike off the sofa. A “mouse potato” is the au courant equivalent of TV’s couch potato: someone who tends to spend a great deal of leisure time in front of the computer in much the same way the couch potato does in front of the television.
Both activities tend to be accompanied by snacking. A recent survey by the American Snack Food Association found that 85% of Web surfers snack at the computer. It has been observed that this habitual nibbling and relative inactivity can lead to development of a characteristic potato-like body form.
Television networks are concerned about the new phenomenon; they want to keep their potatoes planted on the couch. As a fitness professional, I am concerned, too, but not for the same reasons. It’s also true that couch potatoes have a habit of passing down their inactivity to their offspring, affectionately known as tater tots. Sitting in classrooms, offices or cars during the day completes a day of marginal activity for many American’s.
How about spending some time off the couch, computer or cell phone using your legs vs. your thumbs for regular exercise? Did you know that most Americans take under 3,500 steps per day putting them in the “inactive” category? It’s no wonder our clothes seem to shrink right on our body!
Living in a world of immediate gratification, it is easy to see how someone might start an exercise program, and in a mere week or two give up due to lack of visible results. In reality, great physiological changes are happening the first day you move more, so how can you feel good about your progress and ‘see’ results before they are evident in increased energy and vitality or how much better your clothes fit?
Moderate amounts of physical activity have been shown to improve health, yet more than 65% of Americans do not get enough and 25% are completely inactive.
Wearing a pedometer, a small device that counts each step you take, can give you the immediate feedback you crave to feel good about moving more. Few people are able to stick to big changes like going to the gym every day. Small changes can help you take control of your weight and exercise activities and get/keep you healthy and happy for life. You just have to get off the couch or abandon the computer for a few minutes every day.
How do your steps compare?
The chart below gives you some idea of your current level of physical activity. Note that if you perform activities that cannot be measured by a step counter, add them from the chart.
Very inactive 2,500 steps or less per day
Inactive 2,501-5,000 steps per day
Moderately Active 5,001-7,500 steps per day
Active 7,501-10,000 steps per day
Very Active Greater than 10,000
Some step facts:
1 mile = 2,000-2,500 steps
4.5 miles = 10,000 steps
One city block is about 200 steps
Nine holes of golf with no cart = 8,000 steps
Most people walk about 1,200 steps in 10 minutes (time it yourself for your baseline number)
The National Weight Control Registry research consistently validates that being physically active is the best predictor of success in weight loss maintenance. Because your metabolism drops as you lose weight, you have to eat much less after weight loss- unless you increase your physical activity. It is easier for people to make permanent increases in physical activity than to permanently restrict food intake.
It is more reasonable for a happy person to enjoy life with movement and foods they love in moderation.
Don’t let a mouse or piece of furniture trip up your health and fitness!