Building a Fit Nation




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Publishers Weekly


Compiled by Diane Patrick

Dec 13, 2010

The following is a list of African-American interest adult books, fiction and nonfiction, publishing between September 2010 and March 2011. Click here to see a short list of notable African American titles.



Instant Recess: Building a Fit Nation 10 Minutes at a Time (Nov., paper $22.95) by Toni Yancey presents a practical approach to get America moving and back in shape.


Get Fit by Bringing Back Recess

by Sarah Treleaven Dec 12th 2010 9:00AM

Trying to fit more physical activity into your busy schedule? Dr. Toni Yancey, author of 'Instant Recess: Building a Fit Nation 10 Minutes at a Time,' describes how to get healthier by taking mini-fitness breaks.

Q: What is Instant Recess?

A: An Instant Recess break is a 10-minute, simple, enjoyable physical activity interlude, with movements based on sports or dance traditions, that can be done anywhere, anytime, by anybody in any attire. More than 20 of these breaks have been created during the past 10 years and recorded on DVDs or CDs available at Instant Recess is a small oasis of stress relief, mood improvement and energy enhancement that can fit into our busy, over-scheduled lives.

Q: Can you explain how it can help?

A: The average person in most developed nations has become increasingly sedentary over the past few decades. Just 10 minutes could double the daily amount of activity in which most adults participate, and the metabolic benefits may continue for an hour. In addition, prolonged periods of sitting or lying down contribute to ill health over and above the total amount of activity.

So short bouts of activity integrated into daily routine can not only prevent or control heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer, but it can also increase productivity and decrease injuries in the workplace, as well as improve academic performance and decrease disciplinary problems in schools.

Q: Why do you think so many people have an all or nothing attitude toward exercise?

A: The public health messages promoting physical activity have focused on the minimum 30 minutes per day recommended by leading experts, and commercial fitness marketing emphasizes active recreation and sports that few engage in. The "no pain, no gain" values of athletes and committed exercisers dominates the landscape. Since human beings tend to change incrementally rather than in leaps and bounds, 30 minutes can be overwhelming and off-putting.

I think we should emphasize that every minute of activity counts! Each calorie burned is one that doesn't end up around your waist. And if you aim to incorporate short bouts throughout the day, if you miss one, you can still make it up. If you're set on an hour workout in the gym and you don't make it, you can feel a sense of failure.

Q: What is the number one thing that prevents people from exercising on a regular basis?

A: People often cite lack of time, when, in fact, we have more leisure now than ever in human history. I think the underlying reason is that, in mainstream culture, we pay lip service but don't actually value and support a physically active lifestyle. Screen time and autos are much more convenient and pervasively marketed than active recreation or transportation. And humans are probably innately sedentary in adulthood, since our ancestors wouldn't have lived to pass their genes on to us if they'd been jogging around burning hard-to-get calories in their "leisure" time.

Q: What's your advice for anyone who currently does little to no exercise and wants to make some changes?

A: I suggest that they identify some organization or gathering where they spend time, and introduce an Instant Recess break. It could be at the workplace, in professional group meetings, at church choir rehearsals, or parent-teacher association meetings. Break out an iPod and get people up out of their seats and moving -- it lightens the mood, makes people smile and engage each other and it raises the energy level in the room.

And I encourage people to wear pedometers or step counters, because "what gets measured, gets done." Each Instant Recess break will net you about 800-1000 steps toward the goal of increasing your activity level from one week to the next.

Q: If you could offer people one piece of fitness-related advice, what would it be?

A: Social support is the most important single influence on your activity, so find ways to make your regular social interactions more active. For example, make Instant Recess breaks, standing ovations, and fidgeting and stretching during meetings or events the norm rather than the exception.

Schedule small meetings as walking meetings -- you'd be surprised how much you can get done without taking notes, and there's always someone with a smartphone to jot down a key idea or action item. Arrange with your co-workers in-person, or family or friends by phone or skype, to walk or dance at a certain time each day, without fail. Or adopt a rescue dog who depends upon you for a walk each morning and evening.


Posted by Thomas Admin Duff On 11/29/2010

Book Review - Instant Recess: Building a Fit Nation 10 Minutes at a Time by Toni Yancey

It's for sure that a significant percentage of the American population is very overweight and sedentary. Diets come and go, but the weight continues to climb. Where did we lose the motivation to move around and use our bodies? Toni Yancey attempts to reverse that trend with her program outlined in the book Instant Recess: Building a Fit Nation 10 Minutes at a Time. The cynical side of me wonders if anything will change the general mindset, but Yancey does a good job in laying out the advantages of building in a structured activity time within our daily organizational lives...


Introduction; The High Price of a Sedentary America and the Challenge of Getting Society Moving; The Benefits of Widespread Physical Activity and Opportunities to Move the Needle; The Evolution of an Idea; The Marketing and Social Marketing of Physical Activity and Fitness; The Case for the Instant Recess Model; Instant Recess - What's Good for the Waistline Is Good for the Bottom Line!; A Glimpse into the Future - How the Recess Model Sparked a Physical Activity Movement; References; About the Author; Index

Yancey builds a solid case, through studies and personal experience, for the value of adding a group exercise/movement program into your organization. This doesn't involve sending everyone off to a gym for a strenuous workout; instead, it's a 10 minute group program of general movement and calisthenics designed to get people out of their chairs for a "recess break." She documents how programs such as these have positive benefits on many fronts. Not only does the participant feel better and start developing healthy habits, but the organization also benefits with lower absenteeism and more productive workers.  

I found the material very comprehensive, and targeted for organizational areas such as human resources or employee wellness. 

Instant Recess is not necessarily targeted for the single individual, although it did get me thinking about my own (not wonderful) habits and what I need to do to change. It's also not a quick read, in that it goes into a great deal of personal, medical, and social background about how we ended up in this situation, and how we need to change. But in terms of taking a stand and offering a solution that gets people started in the right direction, Instant Recess does a good job.


Obtained From: Publisher

Payment: Free



November 2 2010


Obesity and inactivity have been plaguing America for decades.  Each year the problem grows worse despite the best efforts of public health officials, physicians, nutritionists, exercise experts, and individuals themselves.  Why are Americans so out-of-shape when they know that it’s destroying their health and attacking their pocketbooks?  According to Dr. Toni Yancey, University of California professor and co-director of the UCLA Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Equity, “Nature, modern conveniences, popular pastimes like watching TV and playing video games, and the food industry itself make being sedentary more attractive than being active.”  In her new book, INSTANT RECESS:  Building a Fit Nation 10 Minutes at a Time (University of California Press/November 2010), Yancey presents a practical approach to get America moving and back in shape.

Based on her own experiences running public health programs on both coasts, along with extensive scientific research, Yancey’s method makes being active the easy choice.  “All too often, you get excited about a new exercise program, but then life gets in the way,” says Yancey, who has been appointed to the board of Partnership for a Healthier America, the non-profit organization supporting Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative.  “For people to stick with a more active lifestyle, it needs to be built into the very fabric of their work, school, and community lives.  That’s what Instant Recess is all about,” she adds.

An Instant Recess break is a brief, low-impact, structured group activity for adults and kids.  Typically done to music, it is integrated into the organizational routine at work, school, meetings, churches, sports stadiums – any settings in which people gather.  “The concept of recess makes sense to most people, reminding them of a time in their lives when they enjoyed – even craved – the chance to run around and be free,” explains Yancey, who has facilitated thousands of recess breaks in situations ranging from grant review committees, board of directors meetings, and health conferences.  The key, she says, is making activity inescapable.  “Everybody can participate – recess activities can be done anywhere, anytime, by anybody, in any attire,” she writes.

An ideal opportunity for integrating Instant Recess into people’s lives is the workplace.  The bottom line benefits are multifold.  Research suggests that structured physical activity during business hours means healthier employees as well as greater productivity, reduced absenteeism, and lower health care expenditures – all for little or no cost.  From corporations to small business and from government agencies to non-profits, core strategies for building Instant Recess into the workday include:

•Incorporating ten-minute exercise breaks during lengthy meetings and at a scheduled time of the day;

•Making standing ovations, instead of sitting and clapping, the standard show of appreciation for speakers;

•Supporting exercise during the routine business day – through walking meetings, or scheduling sit-down meetings at a short distance from attendees’ workspaces;

•Posting stair prompts and asking managers to take the lead in using stairs instead of elevators; and

•Including at least fifty percent healthy and competitively priced food choices in workplace vending machines and cafeteria.

In INSTANT RECESS, Yancey also offers a detailed look at the extensive work she and others have done to introduce activity into the lives of sedentary Americans in such diverse places as a charter school in Phoenix, a church in Winston-Salem, a health clinic and a sorority in Los Angeles.  She describes what’s effective and what doesn’t work, common challenges faced by Instant Recess sites, and what’s required to make Instant Recess a success.  Moreover, she warns that health professionals’ focus on nutrition has largely failed to make a dent in the obesity problem, and urges that the emphasis be shifted to give physical activity equal weight.

“Every minute of activity counts, and the less active you are, the more you gain from adding even a few minutes of movement,” asserts Yancey.  “It’s time to put the policies and practices in place that will make it a lot easier for people to make the active choice and increasingly difficult for them to make the sedentary one.  Easier, like getting the whole stadium up and dancing during halftime shows.  Easier, like having people do dance routines with their co-workers on company time.  Harder, like reserving nearby parking spots only for the disabled.”   Written in Yancey’s down-to-earth and engaging style, INSTANT RECESS offers a fun, practical, and proven way to arrest the growth of the twin epidemics of inactivity and obesity, and rebuild a healthy America.



November 2010

Good health shouldn't take a lot of time. "Instant Recess: Building a Fit Nation 10 Minutes at a Time"is a guide to finding one's own sense of health and well-being without destroying one's life in the process. Aimed at both employers and employees, Tony Yancey states that healthy people make happier employees and happier employees make for a better running business. "Instant Recess" is full of plenty of wisdom and is a solidly recommended read all around.

Dr. Toni Yancey Speaks In Favor of Instant Recess

On 10.20.10, In October 2010, by Bill Frank

Dr. Toni Yancey teaches us how to fight obesity by being more active and eating correctly. She uses a technique she calls Instant Recess.

Dr. Toni Yancey, MD, equates obesity and physical inactivity to the dangers of smoking and drunk driving—calling them twin epidemics.  Obesity leads to cardio-vascular problems, heart attacks and disease, diabetes and it stigmatizes children. Dr. Yancey quoted a study that showed an obese child is viewed similarly to a child with cancer undergoing chemotherapy.

In her latest book, Instant Recess: Building a Fit Nation 10 Minutes at a Time, Dr. Yancey says we must integrate activity into our lifestyles. She says Instant Recess is a brief bout of physical activity—typically 10 minutes—integrated into the work or school day.

Dr. Yancey quotes some impressive economic benefits of Instant Recess: 1) reduced Worker’s Comp costs, 2) arrested obesity, 3) reduced blood pressure, 4) reduced absenteeism and reduced ”presentism” which is employees at work but not fully functional or engaged, and 5) lower healthcare costs.

Dr. Yancey was recently appointed to the board of directors of the Partnership for a Healthier America—the non-profit foundation supporting First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative. This is a bi-partisan foundation that also includes Bill Frist (R) and Cory Booker (D). It is designed to engage the private sector in the war on obesity.

Listen to the entire interview: Click here.

The Promise of an Instant Recess

By David Creelman

October 20, 2010

We all know employee fitness is a good thing and we all know it’s very hard for people to adopt healthier lifestyles. To tackle this problem, Dr. Toni Yancey has pioneered a simple but radical idea: give employees a fitness recess. The recess is simply a 5 or 10 minute break where everyone gets up and does a little exercise.  The plan won’t turn employees into Olympic athletes but it can boost their energy and even a little exercise is far better than none.

It’s not hard to see that this would be a good idea. It can be hard to imagine just what it would be like in practice. Can you imagine your office suddenly beginning to exercise?

Think Meeting

An easy way to envision how this would work is to think of a typical meeting. After 45 minutes, most people would be happy to get up and stretch. Yancey's idea is to simply make a little exercise break in meetings part of the standard protocol. We already have various routines around meetings such as starting with introductions or an agenda. There's no reason why it couldn't be standard practice to say, “Ok, we've been at this for 30 minutes, time for the mid-meeting stretch.”

At its least complicated, it could be as simple as “Let's all stretch”. Yancey would, however, recommend something a little more structured and with a little more activity –and you could educate people about that, maybe even have a little on-line video to guide you through it. But those kinds of enhancements are easy to imagine; the tough thing is that first step, that an instant recess in the middle of a meeting is both a good idea and not hard to do.

Think Office

Many workers spend much of their lives in a cubicle, not in meetings. Yancey's recommendation for these workers is to have a certain time each day when everyone stands up and is led through a few simple exercises.  At first glance it's hard to imagine, but we already have coffee breaks and lunch breaks so why not an instant recess? Most people will be happy to stand up for a moment and get away from the computer screen.

Yancey suggests simply having a set time, let’s say 11am, when someone announces it's time for instant recess, and someone leads the office through some simple routines. Can you do such things while dressed for the office and not the gym? Yancey says yes, and it's just a matter of picking the right routine. This is not intended to be an intense aerobic workout, just something to get the blood flowing and the muscles limbered up.

Making in Happen

If one thinks about implementing something like this, there are many logistical details to work through. Do we have music? What are the specific exercises? Is it 5 minutes or 10 minutes? The answers will depend on the situation but I don't think any of those issues are particularly hard to work out. The one missing ingredient to actualizing this vision of people taking a moment to exercise is senior leadership support.

It's unfortunate that in almost every HR initiative we come back to the advice that nothing can happen without senior leadership support. You wonder if HR has so little clout that they can't do anything on their own. But this is clearly a case where you won't get employees doing it without the visible encouragement of top management. If the CEO or head of the division comes down the first couple of times to lead off a recess, then it can happen. It's even better if he or she is able to say that they've been doing instant recess in management meetings.

Health and Habit

Good health is largely a matter of good habits. People have all kinds of breaks in their day. If people have smoking breaks surely they can have a healthy break too; but it has to be facilitated by the organization or it's not going to happen.

The payoff is that once you get over the initial strangeness people will come to really enjoy the little breaks. As well as being healthy it can be fun and build a sense of camaraderie. And if your goal is to improve performance, you'll probably get more out of instant recess than redesigning the performance appraisal form.

To learn more look for Dr Yancey’s new book Instant Recess: Building a fit nation 10 minutes at a time.


David Creelman is CEO of Creelman Research, providing writing, research and speaking on human-capital management. He works with a variety of academics, think tanks, consultancies and HR vendors in Canada, the U.S., Japan, Europe and China. Mr. Creelman can be reached at


by Neil Wagner

October 16, 2010

For most people, recess is a thing of the past, the enjoyable part of grade school. Books were put down and suddenly, everyone could run around and have a good time. Many organizations are now trying to make recess part of the typical workday. Recess is exercise that's also fun. And by all accounts, the idea is extremely popular with workers.

Businesses in Japan embraced the idea of workplace exercise years ago. But jumping jacks and calisthenics fit better into Japanese culture than U.S. culture. Gym class is not recess.

So Antronette Yancey, a doctor and public health professor at UCLA, developed a program called Instant Recess, a 10-minute program more in line with American tastes.

Yancey describes Instant Recess as an activity that can be done by anybody at any time in any attire. Different moves taken from dance and sport are performed to music. The moves are designed so that overweight or sedentary people can perform them fairly easily. One move, called the tipoff, is a squat and jump move much like that of basketball players during a jump ball. Another resembles the move symbolized in the Heisman trophy.

Yancey has found that many people starting out on the program are skeptical about it and often show this by exaggerated eye-rolling. But even these people quickly get caught up in the routines and are soon enjoying them.

Yancey developed the routines to overcome the fact that people seem unable to commit to an exercise routine even as short as half an hour. But ten minutes seems to work well. And she says that most people get a lift in mood and energy from the routine.

Alejandro Espinoza developed another program while working towards his MPH degree at Cal State Fullerton: a daily 15-minute aerobics class and a 20-minute walk every other day for the members of the nonprofit group Latino Health Access. Espinoza says that the group's 55 workers feel more energetic and focused afterwards, and don't have the late day letdown common to many workers.

Espinoza's program began as a health project for his community's children, many of whom did not have a safe place to play. He began driving them twice weekly to an open space where they could run around and play without worries, in a bus owned by Latino Health Access. This eventually led to Espinoza designing a recess program for the members of Latino Health Access.

These two programs are only examples of the many possible types of recess break. Just getting workers out of their chair for a few minutes is healthy; adding some exercise to the mix is even healthier.

Current exercise guidelines call for 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week. But it needn't be done all at once. Ten minutes a day of exercise in the workplace, five days a week is 50 minutes of the suggested 150.

Some people's jobs require them to sit for 90% of the workday. Many studies have shown that so much sitting has an extreme negative impact on health. Even short breaks are helpful to the circulation. Recess is one way to break up all this constant sitting.

Employer sponsored exercise has been heartily endorsed by the U.S. National Activity Plan, The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, The American Heart Association, The YMCA and AARP. Recess at work is one way to get started.

Will nap time be next?

Antronette K. Yancey, MD, MPH is currently a professor in the Department of Health Services, UCLA School of Public Health, and is Co-Director of the UCLA Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Equity.

Alejandro Espinoza, MPH, BS kinesiology is chronic disease coordinator for Latino Health Access, a nonprofit group based in Santa Ana, Ca.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Simply Fit, by Cindy Haskin-Popp, will help you make physical activity a part of everyday life. The health benefits of regular exercise and overall daily physical activity will be discussed. Fun, practical and easy-to-follow tips on an exercise program will be shared, as will the most current research. Fitness tips for families and seniors, on fitness centers and on buying proper and affordable equipment will be regularly given. 

Recess Time at Work?

How would you like to go back to the days of recess? My guess is that many adults would jump at the prospect. Fortunately, the idea does not have to be a mere fantasy. Antronette K. Yancey, MD, MPH, Professor in the Department of Health Services at UCLA School of Public Health and Co-Director of the UCLA Kaiser Permanente Center For Health Equity has created Instant Recess, a program developed to provide adults in the workplace with 10-minute exercise breaks during the day.

The goal of Instant Recess is rooted in the concept of the "built" environment; that is, it's designed to create a surrounding and atmosphere that fosters increased physical activity by its occupants.  Instant Recess, with its simple exercises taken from sports and dance moves and performed to music, makes exercise enjoyable for individuals who are out-of-shape, overweight/obese, or who are new to exercise. Dr. Yancey wants to empower people to become "Champions for Change" by choosing active pursuits over sedentary habits.

For Instant Recess to be effective, employers need to integrate the program into the work environment at specific times of the day, such as during regularly scheduled meetings.  The activities should be performed at a level that allows street clothes to be worn, yet challenging enough that the time spent counts toward the federal government's recommendation of 150 minutes of physical activity per week to promote health.

If you are interested in implementing the Instant Recess program into your work environment visit Dr. Yancey's website at ToniYancey.Com for more information.


Advanced Review – Uncorrected Proof

Issue: October 1, 2010

Nov 2010. 262 p. Univ. of California, hardcover, $55.00. (9780520263758). 

Univ. of California, paperback, $22.95. (9780520263765). 613.0973.

Instant Recess: Building a Fit Nation 10 Minutes at a Time.

Yancey makes a compelling case for establishing ten-minute recesses—that is, aerobic breaks-in schools, churches, baseball stadiums, and offices around the country. Her goal: for people to think that prolonged sitting is as socially unacceptable as drinking and driving or smoking. Yancey holds an undergraduate degree in biochemistry from Northwestern, a medical degree from Duke, and a masters in public health from UCLA, where she is a professor, and one can easily imagine this 6-foot-2 African American woman refusing to take no for an answer. She lays out the problem (a sedentary America), the benefits of physical activity (good health, less obesity), the way to market fitness (change the culture and get people to choose activities they like), and the case for instant recess being good for the bottom line (preventing blood clots and the associated expenses). To liven up her text, the author shares poems she has written and fun photos, even as she stays focused on her call for an affordable, easy way to prevent chronic diseases and promote health.

— Karen Springen

Adding Recess to the Workday
Gains Backers

Programs to get adults up and moving may have business
as well as personal rewards

By Dennis ThompsonHealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Sept. 28 (HealthDay News) --

Think recess, and you'll probably smile. What wasn't to like about a break in the school day set aside for running and playing, for friends and fun?

Now fast-forward to your adult life. What if your workplace started offering recess on the job?

Some medical experts think it's not only a good idea but possibly one of the most solid tactics dreamed up for getting an increasingly out-of-shape America up and moving.

Adult recess would involve a 10-minute break in the workday, when employees would be led through a series of fun routines involving dance and sports-like moves.

The idea may be catching on. Employer-sponsored exercise is a big part of the U.S. National Physical Activity Plan, a cooperative effort by a number of health and fitness organizations to promote physical activity in public settings such as businesses, schools and churches. Partners include the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Heart Association, the YMCA and the AARP.

"When we can build physical activity into an easy, achievable part of our day, it's a lot less daunting for people," said Allison Kleinfelter, a consultant with the National Physical Activity Plan. The program, she said, "is looking at changing places where we live and work to support physical activity."

The benefit of adult recess hinges on physical activity guidelines put out by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which recommend that all adults receive at least 150 minutes of exercise each week, Kleinfelter said.

But a person doesn't need to stack up those minutes during just a few sessions, according to the guidelines, because moderate or vigorous effort will benefit overall health even if each session is as short as 10 minutes.

One work site where adult recess has been implemented is Latino Health Access, a nonprofit group in Santa Ana, Calif. Many of the 55 workers there participate in a 20-minute walk every other day and daily 15-minute aerobics classes, said Alejandro Espinoza, the group's chronic disease program coordinator.

The benefits have been terrific, he said. Workers feel more energetic and focused and are less likely to feel lethargic in the afternoon.

"They look forward to it," he said. "I'm one of the exercise team leaders. They come and tell me, 'Alex, it's time to do our exercise.' "

Businesses in Japan have been doing this sort of thing for years, but Kleinfelter said it's been tough to sell Americans on the idea of doing jumping jacks and other calisthenics.

Enter a program called "Instant Recess," developed by Dr. Antronette K. Yancey, a professor in the department of health services at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Public Health and co-director of the UCLA Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Equity.

"Instant Recess sounds just like we want it to be -- something that can be done by anybody at any time in any attire," Yancey said.

The 10-minute Instant Recess programs feature different sets of moves taken from dance and sports and performed to music.

"They are crafted to be moves that anyone can do," Yancey said. "We have a set of specifications that try to keep this something that a person who is sedentary or overweight can do fairly easily."

A lot of the moves are similar to sports, she said. One, called the "Heisman move," has participants replicate the move featured on the Heisman trophy, awarded each year to the top collegiate football player. Another, called the "tipoff," is a squat-and-jump move much like what basketball players do during the opening tipoff of a game.

"I found that eye-rolling occurs mostly at the beginning," Yancey said. "People aren't sure what to expect, and it seems a little hokey. What happens is people, after the first few minutes, start smiling, start laughing, start engaging with each other, egging each other on."

Yancey said she developed Instant Recess based on research that found that it's very difficult for people to commit to an exercise routine for any length of time. They find it daunting to commit as much as a half-hour to exercise, and the hassle of going to a gym or other place to work out adds one more obstacle to regular exercise.

And though 10 minutes may not seem like much, Kleinfelter and Yancey said that that amount of vigorous exercise can contribute greatly to your health.

"In terms of immediate benefit, most people experience improvement in mood and energy," Yancey said, noting that people feel relaxed and sharper after an Instant Recess session. But as little as 10 minutes of exercise a day also can help prevent weight gain and head off diabetes, and Yancey said her research has found that productivity increased and workplace injuries decreased at businesses where Instant Recess has been implemented.

Even people who are physically active can get something out of a little recess at work, Kleinfelter said.

"A lot of research is showing that people who exercise often sit for as much as 90 percent of their day," she said. "That can be just as negative because you're sitting for extended periods of time. This gives you a chance to get up and move."

It’s not about weightloss, it’s about lifestlye change!

September 21, 2010 By Todd Midgett

Here’s an amazing article I found that hits home the point I try to get across to people all the time.  It’s not about losing weight, it’s about changing your lifestyle.  Enjoy the read… 

A newly published UCLA study suggests our media and cultural obsession with achieving a certain weight does little to convince couch potatoes of any size to abandon their favorite sofa cushions and get active. In fact, those messages may actually undermine motivation to adopt exercise and other healthy lifestyle habits.

Published in the June edition of the peer-reviewed journal Obesity, the cross-cultural study finds that women are more likely to categorize themselves as overweight than men, both overall and within each ethnic group. In addition, African Americans are least likely and whites most likely to consider themselves overweight. The study finds that even among many adults of average or normal weight — men in particular — a self-perceived weight problem correlates with sedentary behavior.

White women of average weight are the only ethnic-gender group studied in which the proportion of sedentary individuals is not higher among those who consider themselves overweight, versus average weight, the study shows. White women are also the only ethnic-gender group in which average-weight individuals comprise the majority.

The researchers noted that in addition to cultural expectations, greater access to fitness programs, "walkable" neighborhoods, quality  child and elder care, and flexible work hours all help make the choice to be active easier for white women overall than their Latina and African American counterparts.

"These data suggest that our society’s emphasis on weight loss rather than lifestyle change may inadvertently discourage even non-obese people from adopting or maintaining the physical activity necessary for long-term good health," said Dr. Antronette Yancey, lead author of the study and associate professor of health services at the UCLA School of Public Health.

"All groups may benefit from messages that shift the focus away from a specific target weight and associated calorie counting, and instead promote increased physical activity and healthy eating habits," Yancey said. "We still need to learn more about the relationship between overweight self-perception and healthy lifestyle change, and the apparent protective role of the cultural valuation of thinness and stigmatization of obesity in the battle of the bulge." The study used data from the 2002–03 Los Angeles County Health Survey, a random telephone survey conducted by the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services. Of 14,154 eligible adults contacted, 8,167 completed interviews, or 58 percent. Body mass index (BMI) was calculated from self-reported weight  and height, and each individual was classified as underweight, normal, overweight or obese. Self-perceived weight status was measured using direct questions asking participants to identify themselves as overweight, underweight or average for their height. Sedentary behavior was measured using standardized questions from an adaptation of the short version of the International Physical Activity Questionnaire.

Among specific findings:

  1. -The prevalence of overweight and obesity among adult Angelenos by race/ethnicity and gender was fairly typical of national samples. The combined prevalence of overweight and obesity was highest in African Americans and Latinos, intermediate in whites, and lowest in Asians-Pacific Islanders. The pattern was consistent among both men and women within each group.

- 73.2 percent of overweight/non-obese and 24.1 percent of average-weight women considered themselves overweight, compared with 44.5 percent of overweight/ non-obese and 5.6 percent of average-weight men.

- 41.3 percent of overweight/non-obese African Americans identified themselves as overweight, compared with 60.6 percent of overweight/non-obese whites.

  1. -Overweight self-perception, versus average-weight self-perception, correlated with sedentary behavior among average-weight adults (45.3 percent versus 33.0 percent), overweight adults (43.4 percent versus 33.6 percent), average-weight and overweight men (38.4 percent versus 27.8 percent), overweight whites (41.9 percent versus 29.7 percent), and African Americans and Latinos (41.6 percent versus 33.9 percent). 

Book Review: "Instant Recess"

Published August 25, 2010 2:21 PM by Adkins-Ali Carrie

People move less than ever before. Consider that 25 percent of the population reports no activity beyond that required for basic functioning, like walking to the fridge. We're overweight, under-fit and marching swiftly toward a massive health disaster.

So here's the good news: the worse things are, the more improvement small changes will make. Consider Toni Yancey, MD, MPH's concept of instant recess. It's a 10-minute burst of activity that's low-impact, easy to follow, can be done in street clothes and, most importantly, is integrated into an organizational routine. It's not going to solve the obesity/inactivity epidemic, but it's most certainly a step in the right direction.

Here's what it could look like:

At 3 p.m. every day, employees play music and dance for 10 minutes on company time.

A group of executives skip the boardroom and walk while they discuss business.

During a long meeting, everyone takes a 10-minute break to perform simple exercises.

Yancey's book, "Instant Recess: Building a Fit Nation 10 Minutes at a Time," is brimming with statistics, facts and examples of why we're in the state we're in and how we can take the first steps to get out of it. I loved this book. And it wasn't just the wealth of facts and information, but the author's voice. Her enthusiasm for making positive change drips off of the page as she outlines a simple and effective program and then provides plenty of evidence to back up the benefits.

Every time I picked up the book, I felt energized and excited about Yancey's message. Of course, I also felt incredibly guilty about lounging about and reading instead of moving around, but I solved that dilemma by reading while walking on the treadmill.

Those of us who exercise of our own free will are a minority, Yancey stresses. The rest of the population needs a little push. And making exercises a standard part of, say, the workday, may be just the thing to get sedentary people to get moving, even if it's just a little bit.

While bean counters will undoubtedly scoff at the idea of paying employees to exercise for 10 minutes, consider the case of L.L. Bean. Three times a day, the company stops the assembly lines for five-minute stretch breaks. That's 15 minutes with the lines shut down. But instead of losing productivity, the company actually gets 30 minutes worth of output because the employees are more efficient. Helping employee health helps the company's bottom line. Imagine that.

The book isn't aimed at casual exercisers, or people who should be exercising, but rather at public health programs, company owners, bosses, community leaders--anyone who can make a difference in American habits by making 10-minute exercise breaks an easy and desirable option for people. Of course, any sedentary person will learn a wealth of information about why they need to move, but this isn't a how-to-exercise book. It's a how-to-improve-American's-health book. It's a great read for anyone interested in fitness beyond the personal. It should definitely be required reading in MBA programs.

"It's time to put the policies and practices in place that will make it a lot easier for people to make the active choice and increasingly difficult to make the sedentary one," Yancey says. The health of our country depends on it.

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