A new report reveals that there is a women's fitness crisis in the UK: Fewer than one in five are doing enough exercise to be healthy. The prime minister is urging "a cultural change that allows girls to see sports and physical activity as aspirational." Apparently, 80% of women are doing too little exercise to benefit their health. Government guidelines say five 30-minute sessions of moderate activity a week are needed to produce health benefits. Meanwhile, here in the US, we may face an obesity epidemic, but older women are working out, according to The New York Times (which actually printed the words "yummy mummy").
Here's the thing: Humans are overpopulating the planet. We're at the top of the food chain, eating like crazy and multiplying. And if you know anything about population patterns, our exponential growth may be followed by exponential decline. Like the dinosaurs, we're not meant to last forever. So maybe the obese will die and the thin will inherit the earth? With its limited resources? Who are we to fuck with natural selection? Survival of the fittest, for real?
It's just a thought. But it'll start with women. The report found that some see sports as "unfeminine", with thinness coming above healthiness in female priorities.
A quarter of women surveyed for the study agreed with the statement "I hate the way I look when I exercise or play sport" and a third of 18- to 24-year-olds and nearly half of 25- to 34-year-olds feel under greater pressure to be thin than to be healthy.
Sue Tibballs, the chief executive of the Women's Sport and Fitness Foundation, which released the report, says that girls and women feel "at best, pretty ambivalent about sports." She notes, "When you think that the highest profile women in sport are the Wags (wives and girlfriends of football players, aka Posh Spice), is it so surprising that girls have these attitudes? Being active and sporty is not an aspirational place for young women to be."
We haven't come very far at all; in 1934, Physical Culture magazine published a letter written by a mother about her 11-year-old daughter, Peggy. "My daughter, who had always possessed a sweet, lovable disposition, had become subject to unbridled fits of temper," writes Mrs. Helen M. Springer. "Her mood might be sparkling animation one moment, darkly morose the next. Her appetite was erratic, and her attention to things said to her very poor." Mrs. Springer started Peggy on a healthy exercise and diet plan. She gained weight, her schoolwork improved and the light in her eyes came back. That was seventy-three years ago.
If nothing changes, fate will take its course, obesity will kill the obese and global warming will take care of the rest. Can we really stop this destiny from happening?
Lack of time, Offputting PE Lessons, Social Pressure ... Why Women Face A Fitness Crisis [Guardian]
Few Women Doing Enough Exercise [BBC News]
Our Physical Culture Girls [Modern Mechanix]