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Deadly FAS epidemic threatens U.S.

From the Revolutionary War to the current war in Afghanistan, the U.S. has suffered 1,321,612 casualties to war, but now we are facing a highly contagious epidemic that is already responsible for more deaths every year than all the wars in the history of our country. That epidemic – hereafter described as Fitness Aversion Syndrome (FAS) – has been spreading across the country for decades and is accelerating at a rate that threatens to overwhelm our medical resources.

Millions infected by FAS epidemic in U.S.
Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

It has been scientifically proven – but largely ignored – that physical inactivity is a primary cause of most chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, stroke, and arthritis. Moreover, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), chronic diseases are the leading cause of death and disability in the U.S. and account for 70% of all deaths or 1.7 MILLION each year. These diseases also account for major limitations in daily living for almost 1 of 10 Americans or about 25 million people.

Incredibly, “chronic diseases are among the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems in the United States,” says the CDC. But, it seems you can’t even “give” exercise away.

Even when fitness memberships are free, those who need it most don’t use the facilities and services available to them. According to a recent study published in the Journal of Community Health – “Utilization of a Free Fitness Center-Based Exercise Referral Program Among Women with Chronic Disease Risk Factors” - adult female patients of a community health center with an affiliated fitness center, in Boston, MA, were included in the study if they received a referral to the fitness center from their primary care provider.

The results? Only 503 (40 %) of the 1,254 referred women in the study sample activated their membership but, once activated, 96 (19%) never used the facilities even once, 359 (71%) used it only sparingly, and only 48 (10%) used the facilities regularly. This is indicative of how insidious FAS can be when it completely defies logic or common sense and continues to wreak havoc on the health of our society.

It is well-known that physical activity can improve health, appearance, and quality of life – all things to which it would seem most people would naturally aspire - so what is it about exercise that is so repugnant? Why this “aversion” to something so good for you? After all, the minimal amount of physical activity recommended by the CDC is only 150 minutes a WEEK or less than 1% of the total of 10,140 minutes in a week. Hmm.

The cure for FAS? Unfortunately, exercise requires self-motivation and self-discipline whether you “like” it or not. If you don’t do it, there will be a price to pay, and FAS will likely lead to a chronic disease or worse. It’s a choice – to exercise or not - that may largely determine the course of the rest of your life. Readers affected by FAS can get help now by contacting their local hospital, health club, or community health center or YMCA to learn about how to cure FAS and stop this epidemic in its tracks.

Of course, fitness legend Jack LaLanne preached the cure for decades, “you have to move, people – and do it with enthusiasm!” Was anybody listening?