A study in the Mayo Clinic indicated that fat women only do about an hour of exercise every year. This was the headline at Time:
Obese Women Get Only One Hour Of Exercise in a Whole Year
That isn't true. The hour was only for vigorous exercise. All the headlines, in the rush to make fun of fat neglected to mention this is vigorous exercise. CBS News was the only one who remembered to add vigorous.
Activities that fall under this category include jogging, running, swimming laps, riding a bike fast on hills, playing singles tennis or playing basketball.
People can also opt to participate in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise weekly in lieu of the more vigorous activities, per the recommendations. Those activities include walking fast, doing water aerobics, riding a bike on flat ground, playing doubles tennis or pushing a lawn mower.
(Not sure why water aerobics is here. I found it harder to do than swimming laps.)
First off the data is from eight years ago. Trends change. Deb Burgard of ASDAH (Her quotes in italics) mentioned on the ASDAH email list some issues she with the study.
1. How it was measured. They used accelerometers which only can detect a subset of human body movements (and the body movements accelerometers measure are most accessible to lower-weight, younger and less disabled people)
2. People of other weights didn't get that much exercise either. It's true that fat women did 11-36 seconds of vigorous exercise per day compared to "normal" women who got 108 seconds which means that normal women did something like 3-10 times as much. Which means that at most normal weight women got 10 hours of vigorous exercise a year. Which is less than what I do (I'm on an exercise bike everyday 10-30 minutes and swim 30 - 60 minutes a day 5x a week in the summer). And I don't consider myself as active as I want. I think this study shows that we all need to exercise more. But of all the headlines about this study, only the Huffington Post pointed out that we all needed to exercise more, not just thin people (This goes back to the discrimination where it’s okay for a thin person not to eat right or exercise).
So using the same logic as the headlines, people in the "normal weight" category who are not being mentioned in this discussion would have accumulated 11 hours of vigorous activity in a year. Running half an hour a day, that would be two weeks of running. Is anyone seriously proposing that running for two weeks is what determines whether a person is in the "normal" weight category or the "obese" category?
3. Once moderate exercise was put in the mix, each body type was about equal.
However the lower amount of vigorous exercise among fat women does perhaps proves something. I have mentioned on this blog the stigma of being fat and getting exercise. We’re made fun of when we exercise and even rental bikes can’t support our weight. Not to mention that a lot of fat people have a lower socioeconomic status and tend to have less time for movement. (I’ve written before that I do more exercise when I have more free time.) Instead of the news media chastising fat women for not exercising enough, perhaps they should do their job and found out why they don’t.