A busy lifestyle dependent on fast food hinders fitness, one therapist says.
Many of those working in local health and fitness training have the same impression of the general public.
Personal trainer Janet Pitzulo explains the way she sees it: "I believe fitness is a big part of our society's way of thinking, but a very small percentage of people are actually participating, because it's hard work. We all know the health benefits, and everyone means to get around to doing it, but exercising regularly is tough. People get inspired in January, but when February comes, they're done."
"We're lackadaisical in our own body maintenance," says massotherapist Christopher A. Morakis. He compares body maintenance to car care. "You wash and wax your car, change the oil, rotate the tires, but what do you do for your body? You owe it to yourself. You can replace a car, but not your body."
The message, he acknowledges, doesn't always sink in. "I'm guessing, but I've worked with a lot of people, and maybe one out of 200 heed that call. Most of us, for whatever reason, don't take time for personal maintenance."
Why not? Pitzulo thinks part of the reason is guilt. "To exercise regularly, you have to take time for yourself without getting a guilt complex over it. You have to develop a habit."
Morakis blames a fast-paced lifestyle that leaves no time for exercise and a dependence on "instant" food. "Our diets are horrendous because of our lifestyles, running here and there. Both parents work, and they depend on ready-made and fast foods to feed their families. Fresh meat and vegetables on the kitchen table for supper have gone by the wayside. That has a lot to do with today's obesity. My kids want to eat french fries and pizza all the time, and I have to be tough about it. I say, 'Uh, no. You're not eating that.'
"We have to recognize that the ready-made foods we're eating, even if they're low in this and that, are still terrible. They overtax the entire digestive and endocrine system. Our bodies can't digest them, and we get stomach trouble, diabetes, all kinds of diseases -- all because of our crappy diets and lack of exercise."
Despite the lack of time and motivation, experts say, fitness, exercise and a proper diet should be integral parts of our lives. They should come first, not last. Fitness, Pitzulo says, should be an attractive thing. "Exercise helps relieve stress; it makes you feel good about yourself; it improves your appearance. Why wouldn't you love to do that?"