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In-Your-Face Fitness: Crank up the rebellion

It's time to break the bonds of gravity and power off the couch.

November 14, 2011|By James S. Fell, Special to the Los Angeles Times
  • The rebellion begins with finding something that will motivate you into moving.
The rebellion begins with finding something that will motivate you into… (Digital Vision / Getty Images )

My grandmothers always called me Jamie. Everyone did, until I insisted that we switch to the name on my birth certificate. This happened around the same time I attempted to grow my first mustache.

Regardless, there is a history of me using the name Jamie. I tell you this because I want you to join Jamie Fell's Fitness Rebellion.

Sound familiar?

Of course, there are a few differences between me and chef-activist Jamie Oliver (beyond the fact that I don't have an Emmy-winning reality show on TV). First off, I'll let you in on another little-known fact about me: I have a master's degree in military history. My thesis focused on rebellion and revolution in Latin America. Rebellion means fighting the regime in power. Revolution means actually winning that fight and seizing power.

I know we can't overthrow the enemy that is sedentary living — it's a force that is too strong. Consider a 2008 study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health who put accelerometers on more than 6,000 American adults and determined that fewer than 5% of them got 30 minutes of physical activity at least five times a week. The sobering result was published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

If you want a slightly less depressing statistic, read the 2006 book "The Psychology of Exercise." In it, Curt Lox, a professor of kinesiology at Southern Illinois University, reports that only 23% of Americans exercise enough to achieve minimal health benefits.

Instead of moving, we're sitting. A 2008 study of 6,329 Americans published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that 60% of waking hours are spent in sedentary pursuits. A lot of that is in front of the tube, according to the A.C. Nielsen Co., which reports the average American watches more than four hours of TV each day.

This is all just … really sad. I need to lie down after reading that.

But I can't. I have a rebellion to lead. The enemy forces of sedentary living and inaction may be strong, but we can put a dent in their power base! We can create small pockets of athletic resistance against the call of the couch!

This is not a battle of muscle. We must win hearts and minds.

The desire to not take this sitting down and the brainpower to move your butt is all you need to join the fitness rebellion. It doesn't matter if you run, walk, ride, bend, Pilate, swim, kick, punch, spike, ski, throw, jump, surf, climb, row, racket, lift, paddle or push. You just have to do something other than sit still.

We didn't used to have to make a special effort to get ourselves moving; circumstances did it for us. Plow fields or starve. Chop wood or freeze. Build shelter or get wet. Slay wild beasts or eat nuts and berries for dinner again.

Now we have the audacity to complain if the drive-through window is closed.

There are no excuses for not being active. I've seen numerous polls that state the No. 1 reason people don't exercise is lack of time. Let's go back to that Nielsen figure on time spent watching TV. (Or, if you really insist on spending four hours in front of the tube, at least spend part of them doing squats, jumping jacks or lunges.)

Stop looking for a quick fix or a miracle cure for getting in shape and instead find something physically active that you don't hate. Then learn to get good at that activity. With competence and confidence comes a love for your chosen exercise; you get your all-important positive reinforcement so you want to keep doing it. Find love and you'll find time.

And you're running out of excuses not to. The amount of reality TV programming permeating the airwaves should have you running for the hills, or at least hiking in that direction. Would you really rather keep up with the Kardashians than sweat?

I miss Jack LaLanne.

He was the one true fitness guru, and he was an expert at blowing away those excuses people have to not exercise. In fact, he's the guy you should thank for giving you so many opportunities to work out.

Jack basically invented the modern health club in the 1930s and challenged the advice of the medical establishment of the day by promoting regular and intense physical activity. Thanks to his work, we have opportunities galore to be fit. You can get shoes specifically designed for your type of activity, hire an expert to show you what to do, have access to a gym that's open 24 hours, pedal some high-tech wheels far and fast or take a dance class designed to get your heart rate up.

Like me, that other Jamie is destined to be a mere rebel rather than a revolutionary, as evidenced by a 2010 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey which found that only 14% of American adults consume the recommended five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

I can't run behind all of you with a cattle prod telling you to get moving. Like the other Jamie does with food, all I can do is inspire you to join the fitness rebellion against sedentary living, because you're the one with the most to gain. And lose.

What do you say? Want to join me?

Come on, I'll let you call me Jamie.

Fell is a certified strength and conditioning specialist in Calgary, Canada

james@bodyforwife.com

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