Modern society is great, it really is. It’s 2016 and technology just keeps getting better and better, more and more advanced. It truly is a great time to be alive. However, while our technical knowledge, and thus our lifestyle, has advanced leaps and bounds over the past few thousand years, our human bodies have remained largely the same.
Unfortunately, our modern lifestyle is absolutely TERRIBLE for our physical bodies (and one could argue that it has been bad for our mental states too, to a certain extent). Let’s examine this from three perspectives: Diet, Exercise, and Mobility.
Numerous articles have been written about this topic, but I’ll throw in my two cents as well. Rising obesity rates are not just an American problem anymore and they seem to be correlated with the level of development of a country. Obesity is nothing but a symptom of our modern society. With over 7 billion people living on this planet today, there is absolutely no way that small scale agricultural farming would be able to feed our ever growing population. Hence, the large scale industrialization of our food industries. While this is necessary, it has come with its price, coupled with a capitalistic economy, food manufacturers are always looking to reduce costs.
That results in highly processed foods, many of them high in calories but low in nutritional content and heavy on taste maximization (saltiness, sweetness), perfectly engineered to be as addictive to our brains as some drugs.
What is the cure for this? Information and knowledge (the purpose of this site). I am very pleased to see the rise of healthy diets, such as primal and paleo diets, as well as just a better all-round focus on cutting down processed foods. While the knowledge is out there, it seems that the dedication is not there; I don’t blame them, after all willpower is a finite resource, and after a stressful day at work, what can be better than a delicious, savory, fast food cheeseburger, washed down with some fries and a nice, sweet, frizzy soda?
Or rather the lack thereof. With the rise of industrialization and technology, more and more of the hard physical portion of labor is performed by machines. This is why even those working blue collar jobs nowadays can have insufficient exercise, what more the average white collar worker. The statistics speak for themselves
- Less than 5% of adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day;only one in three adults receive the recommended amount of physical activity each week.
- Only 35 – 44% of adults 75 years or older are physically active, and 28-34% of adults ages 65-74 are physically active.
- More than 80% of adults do not meet the guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities, and more than 80% of adolescents do not do enough aerobic physical activity to meet the guidelines for youth.
Enough said. Every healthy adult needs to get on a strength training routine for stronger muscles, tendons, and joints (proven to reduce the risk of osteoporosis in old age) as well as regular aerobic activity (not necessarily intense) for cardiovascular health.
While diet and exercise and its relation to our modern sedentary lifestyle have been extensively addressed, rarely do they bring about mobility. Ever see an old person struggle to climb up and down the stairs? A lot of the times they have lost their mobility, truly a curse, as it is literally losing our physical freedom.
How does our modern lifestyle contribute to this? In many ways, but the main one is simply this, sitting at a desk for hours on end. It causes, among other things, postural damage, weakened muscles, and even higher bad cholesterol!
While sitting is a necessary part of modern society, the damage caused by it can be mitigated with a daily stretching and mobility routine (just as important as exercise). For starters, we would recommend a standing desk or simply taking a brief lap around your office every 30 minutes. For a cool daily mobility challenge, check out Ido Portal’s 30/30 squat challenge.
That sums up the three plagues of the modern lifestyle, keep a look out for future articles on more ways to remove such dysfunctions from your life.