[fitness friday] Our unfit youth


written by john c ashworth, ma, cscs

Here’s the LINK to the VIDEO segment!

A new study from the CDC reports that over the last 10 years, regardless of a family’s economic status, our nation’s young people have become increasingly unfit every year over the last 10 years.

A small, yet hidden example of why this is happening, occurred yesterday when my son Carl came home and complained that he couldn’t get one of his friends out to play. Instead, his neighborhood pal was entranced inside a game of Mindcraft, victim of the alluring temptation to stay inside in front of the screen rather than venture outside into a literally perfect day of summer.

This fact, along with a variety of other factors, are leading to an unfit youth population. It seems every day we hear another story about the perils of childhood overweight and obesity and the adolescent diabetes that often results.  All of which begins, with a lack of movement and a general lack of willingness to go outside and play.  A problem that is apparently getting worse.  This is a disturbing trend for which me must find a solution. Parents, schools and anyone else with an influence on younger individuals have an important responsibility to help find ways to motivate kids to move more and sit less.

The facts here are disturbing. The minimum recommendation for physical activity for kids is an hour per day.  However, less than a third of kids today are getting at least an hour a day of physical activity.  Previous research looked more closely at the amounts of physical activity kids were getting and found that in most cases the volume of physical activity kids were getting was peeking by the age of 10 and sometimes as low as the age of two. What we didn’t know is exactly how this was affecting the fitness levels of our children. This new study took a closer look at that.

Today, trends show that the majority of kids today are spending 8 to 10 hours in front of the screen. With those times peeking and even increasing above those numbers during summertime when they’re out of school. Which is essentially what was happening yesterday when Carl tried to entice his friend outside, and was unsuccessful.

For this new study, researchers from the CDC turned to NHANES data.   NHANES OR the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey is a collection of long-term data on the health habits of Americans.  As reported by The New York Times during this investigation, C.D.C. scientists expanded on the usual annual NHANES telephone questioning by inviting some respondents to visit a mobile physiology lab for more extensive physical testing. In 2012, they recruited a group of about 450 boys and girls ages 12 to 15 representing a variety of ethnic groups and socioeconomic circumstances.

Researchers compared the fitness levels of these kids to benchmarks recently set by the CDC. Unfortunately what they found, was that very few of these young individuals fell into what is known as the ” healthy fitness zone.”  Overall only about 42% of the young individuals fell into this healthy fitness zone. That number was even lower for girls at 34%, while about 50% of the boys found themselves in this “healthy fitness zone.”

As stated before, the results were not contingent upon income level or poverty status.  In other words children from affluent families were just as unfit as children from families below the poverty line.  Probably the most disturbing finding, however, was the fact that fitness level overall over the last 10 years has decreased at a rate of 10%, or 1% per year. Hence, in spite of the well-known facts about how unhealthy our kids are becoming, and the problem of increased rates of type two diabetes, resulting in shorter lifespans then their parents, we have not made any progress in helping to make kids more fit.  In fact, the opposite is true.

The Solution?

More exercise and More parental involvement!

If you have children, you can no longer avoid physical activity, because YOU set the example.  It’s one thing if you’re making a choice not be physically fit yourself.  Still unacceptable in my opinion, but still your choice.  It’s completely another when this attitude and belief system affects your children in such negative ways.

One strategy I’ve implemented recently in my own family is to invest in the Jawbone Up 24 constant activity tracker for both myself and my kids.  This unique device has increased awareness in our household immensely around good nutrition and exercise.  Tune in to the Fitness Friday segment in two weeks for part 2 of this topic where I will detail how and why implementing a system like the Jawbone Up24 can help you and your kids increase your awareness and as a result, your fitness levels.



[newsletter] From the desk of Johnny Toyota – August 2014

created, written, and produced by
john c ashworth, ma

John Ashworth, pictured with well known Hybrid Expert and fellow West Morland neighbor, John Dolan.

Wednesday, August 7th, 2014

From the Desk of Johnny Toyota…

Yes!  I have some momentum going now.  Four months in to the “Car Business” and every day that goes by I have that much more to share with you all the time.

This month, I have some really cool stuff, but first, I want to comment on why I placed “Car Business” above in quotation marks.  First, that’s what everyone around here calls it all the time.  In spite of the fact that I’ve also heard on more than one occasion that this is really a “People” business.  This is a statement I agree with, but that I believe needs some refinement over time, because there is so much more than meets the eye in this work.

The bottom line, of course, is that you’re likely here because you’re in need of a new car at the best price, and for the least amount of haggling and headache.  So let’s get to the beef.

Before I go though, be sure to take note of my new podcast.  You can find a link to archived episodes by clicking the podcast logo in the header of this site, or by searching for “Johnny Toyota” on iTunes.


Here is the table of contents for the August edition of The Johnny Toyota Newsletter:

[fitness friday] 5 Exercises YOU can do in DRESS Clothes!

photo (12)

written by john c ashworth
Watch the live “Fitness Friday” episode on NBC15 on July 18th at 5:15 PM in Madison, WI

Click Here for the NBC 15 Video Archive Link to this segment

Alright, yes.  I’ve heard all the excuses over and over again.  “But, I don’t like to get sweaty in my work clothes.”  OR, “I can’t do that in my high heels.”  OR, “I don’t have time, I’m at work all day.”

The plain truth is that yes, we are all very busy every day taking care of our primary responsibility – work.  And yes, this often leaves us with very little time at the end of the day for the fun stuff like working out.  So, in the spirit of squashing any and all excuses, I thought I would share with you tonight five exercises you can do while you’re still wearing dress clothes.  An idea, by the way, that my 10-year old daughter Ana crafted for me for this segment.

I’ve chosen five moves that I believe can be performed wearing almost any type of ‘dressy’ outfit (men or women), and that at the same time will give you the biggest boost in heart rate and metabolism throughout your work day.  There are two requirements, however, before we get started.

Requirement #1

You MUST shed yourself of the belief that a little sweat underneath all that cover is a bad thing.  Because if you can’t do that, than you might as well stay in your chair all day.  That said, staying in your chair all day leads to weight gain, which leads to even more heat and uncomfortable feelings in all those fancy clothes, which ultimately leads to more sweat.  Get over it.

Requirement #2

As usual, an open mind, but in addition to this, a willingness to bring at least one dumbbell to work, and hide it under your desk, while also maintaining a quiet focus each day on creating opportunities to break away from your work, and get moving.

OK, here we go…

The Five Moves:

  1. Walking – “That’s right!”  Simple.  Get out of the office and go for a walk.  And if it’s winter time, create what I like to call your own personal office obstacle course and get to work on completing it at least once per day.  Find stairs, back hallways, garages, or small rooms where you can sneak away and get your body moving and your blood pumping.  Bring your dumbbell for added fun 🙂
  2. Stepping – YES!  This is closely related to number one, and I’ve talked about this many times before.  The benefits of finding a stairwell and climbing those stairs multiple times per day is immense.  Research also shows that this kind of intense Heart Rate boost periodically throughout the day is one of the best things you can do to prevent an unwanted heart attack.  Bring your own step if necessary.
  3. The Dumbbell Punch – this one is excellent because it not only will boost your heart rate and grant you a killer shoulder workout in 60 seconds or less, it might also help you relieve some of that office tension that tends to build up throughout the day.  Imagine, for example, who might be waiting for you on the other end of that punch.
  4. Jumping Jacks – ladies, you may have to remove your high heels for this one (which will be good for your lower leg health anyway), and all of us will have to be careful not to raise our hands too high above our heads to prevent a tear in the dress shirt.  But really, if you think about it, there is no reason why you can’t jump around a little during the day.  It will be good for your bones as well.
  5. Push-ups – Aaah, yes, our old and faithful friend, the push-up…either a full push-up on the floor, or maybe just against the edge of your desk or chair.  A few push-ups every day will help you maintain good overall core and total body strength.

Now, before you go dismissing this as just plain silly, allow me to ask you one question…

How much stronger might you be today, if you had taken 10-15 minutes per day over the course of the last year to sneak this stuff in at work?  It might not seem like much when you look at it here on the page, but added up over the course of time, it makes a difference.

The Japanese have a principle known as “Kaizen” or “Constant Improvement” through small, incremental changes implemented consistently over time.

Take action!

Also now known as both The Fitness Nomad & Johnny Toyota


[newsletter] From the news desk of Johnny Toyota :) June 2014

Welcome and thanks for stopping by.  As you know I am now selling Toyotas for Smart Motors of Madison, WI.  I’m having a great time and this is my first installment from the desk of Johnny Toyota 🙂

I hope you enjoy it, and thanks for your interest!


From the desk of Johnny Toyota on 6/10/2014…

Did you have your exercise snacks today?


written by john c ashworth, ma, cscs, ces

This morning is a good example.  In the spirit of ride your bike to work week, I rode my bike the short three-mile trip to work.  Though that doesn’t seem like much, I feel like a completely different person this morning.


Because even that short trip provides a few hills and a jolt to my morning heart rate that changes my physiology in albeit short, but significant ways.  New research shows that this “Exercise Snack” I had on the way in to work can help me control my blood sugar and blood pressure and not just for a few hours, but for the entire day.  Assuming I combine it with at least a couple more short 10 minute exercise sessions.

According to the New York Times article I read in preparation for tonight’s Fitness Friday segment with Leigh Mills on NBC 15 in Madison, WI, scientists have agreed for some time now that breaking up exercise into repeated, short sessions can as beneficial  as longer workouts.  One example was a study performed in 2012 where people with hypertension were able to control their blood pressure more effectively with three 10 minute walks per day, as opposed to only one 30 minute walk.

In a newer, yet much smaller investigation of nine men and women in New Zealand with confirmed insulin resistance, a pre-cursor to the metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes, blood sugar levels were improved dramatically throughout the day by similar short, 10-minute “snack-sized” workouts performed repeatedly each day.

Here is what was really interesting though…

The blood sugar levels of participants in this study were tested following meals and multiple times through the day on days where they performed varying types of exercise.  In all cases, as would be expected, blood sugar levels were improved with exercise.  Participants exercised, then ate a meal, and then had their blood sugar tested after the meal and for a 24-hour period following the exercise they performed.

In addition to a steady-state 30-minute walk, the nine subjects in this study came back on two additional occasions and performed 12 minutes of interval training and 12 minutes of interval training accompanied by some moderate strength training exercise.  On the days where they performed the interval training and strength training, their blood sugar was not only lower post-meal, but also lower for the entire 24-hour time period following their exercise and meal.

If you’ve been watching the Fitness Friday segment for any length of time, you will notice a strong trend in the research and in the themes Leigh and I are covering.  The message is that if you want to improve your health, lose or maintain your weight, control your blood sugar, blood pressure and other risk factors for disease, you not only need to exercise at least a few days per day at the gym, you also need to get up our of your chair and move regularly throughout the day.


Because that is how your body is built to work.  It needs movement and exercise and when you provide this activity, it does a much more efficient job of keeping you healthy, fit, and vibrant.




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