CHICAGO — COVID-19 is not the only pandemic Americans should be concerned about. Researchers from the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) are calling the increase pandemic of physical inactivity a “crisis” for the United States.
“The findings of the current investigation indicate a crisis within a crisis involving a pandemic of physical inactivity in the US,” said Dr. Ross Arena, from UIC’s Department of Physical Therapy and founder of the Healthy Living for Pandemic Event Protection (HL-PIVOT) Network, in a media release. “At a national level, physical activity is unacceptably low and has not improved significantly over the past decade while high levels of social vulnerability and physical inactivity are concentrated in specific geographic regions .”
This study uniquely investigates the relationship between social vulnerability and physical inactivity, using county-level data on the prevalence of physical inactivity and the Social Vulnerability Index (SVI). It considers the impact of regional cultures on the US as defined by the American Nations model.
The main findings of the study include:
- Social vulnerability, particularly related to socioeconomic status and household characteristics, significantly affects the prevalence of physical inactivity in the US
2. There is marked variation in social vulnerability in different regions of the US. A “belt of social vulnerability” has been identified, covering much of the southern US and parts of northern and western Alaska, indicating areas of greatest concern.
3. The overlap in the distribution of SVI and prevalence of physical inactivity suggests a strong regional cultural influence on these adverse events.
Research also considers external factors that influence lifestyle choices, including cultural and geographic factors, historical settlement patterns, and the development of distinctive regional cultures. Dr. Nicolaas Pronk, a co-investigator of the study and president and chief science officer of HealthPartners, criticizes the traditional approach to health messaging.
“Basically, we said, Being physically active is good for everyone and therefore all people should be more physically active and exercise 150 minutes or more per week on most if not all days. of the week at a moderate intensity is ideal.’ Little attention is paid to the factors that influence a person’s decision to be physically active,” said Dr. Pronk.
Colin Woodard, another co-investigator and director of the Nationhood Lab at Salve Regina Universitys Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy, emphasizes the importance of understanding the real drivers of physical inactivity.
“Historically, public and individual health professionals have not considered some of the real drivers of physical inactivity,” says Woodard. “Our goal in this study is to start getting to the bottom of what really motivates behavior and behavior change. Data-based intelligence and the work of historians and cultural geographers can help us find the best way to encourage healthy lifestyle choices and ultimately make people healthier.”
Dr. decided Arena’s findings show the profound influence of US regional characteristics on physical activity decisions.
“These factors should be considered when designing physical activity health promotion campaigns and tailoring individual counseling,” explained Dr. Arena. “We need to figure out how to help specific communities and individuals make behavioral changes. What tools do they need? What messaging will resonate with them? It’s time to apply a precision medicine approach to healthy living medicine.”
The study was published in The American Journal of Medicine.
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