Inequality in Physical Activity

As anyone who lives in Western Hemisphere knows by now the New Year often brings with it a slew of fitness and health resolutions, by men, women, young and old. Any of us that frequent the gym sees a spike in attendance at our gym within these first few weeks. However, this spike is short lived my March as many new members start disappearing, and exercise equipment start slowly gathering dust.

Many regular gym goers may welcome this reduction in attendance by the "Resolutioners." As someone who values physical fitness and activity and who understands the role it plays in helping to maintain good health, this yearly cycle of broken commitment saddens me. Studies consistently demonstrate the plethora of health benefits associated with regular physical activity; it helps to reduce the chances of obesity, heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, stroke and many more. Physical activity also helps to promote mental health as well, by improving; mood, cognitive function, energy levels and reducing the risk of developing depression.

Socio-economic status has a significant correlation with one’s likelihood of engaging in physical activity, which subsequently influences their risk of developing health issues. Isn’t it interesting that higher income families are statistically found to engage in more physical physical activity when compared to those in a lower income bracket (below $15,000)? The latter are also at an increased risk for developing diseases such as obesity and diabetes. There are multiple barriers, which prevent lower income persons from participating in regular physical activity and exercise, which include: affordability (i.e. gym memberships) and lack of time (low income families end up working multiple jobs just to make ends meet).

To overcome these barriers on a systematic level there are policy and community planning options which ought to be considered. However, these options often take years to develop and implement. Our best option regardless of socio-economic status is to make a conscious effort throughout the (entire!) year to engage in as much physical activity as possible, whether it is walking more, working out at home a few times per week or using that gym membership that we were once so excited to sign up for.

- Omar Trail

Omar Trail’s interest in the social determinants of health, as well as the management of health care resources, led him to pursue a B.A in Health Studies and Political Science. He joined the GLITR team because he has a strong interest and passion for helping people lead healthier and happier lives. Omar is what some may describe as a “fitness nut” he enjoys living an active and healthy lifestyle. Omar also enjoys going to church, as he believes spiritual health is paramount.

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