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Couch potatoes getting physical?

So now we're supposed to exercise up to 90 minutes a day if we want to remain healthy, productive people. That's the recommendation of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture.

Tommy Thompson, the outgoing commissioner of Health and Human Services, announced the new U.S. Dietary Guidelines at a press conference Wednesday. He looked like he could use a more rigorous exercise routine himself.

The new guidelines beg the question: who's got the time (and the inclination) to stay that healthy?

Sure, there are those health nuts who are parked at the YMCA every day for hours on end. There are even a few local folks who run several miles each day, whether it's 30 below zero or 100 degrees above.

But your average Joe isn't built that way. Anybody with kids, a full-time job and a need for regular sleep would be hard pressed to meet the new expectations.

Even the minimum suggested exercise requirements of 30 minutes a day are out of reach for many. If you can accomplish that minimum goal, you're merely reducing your risk of chronic disease. You are not helping to keep the weight off or improving your overall outlook on life.

There was a time when I met the standard for health. But that was 40 years ago and I had the entire afternoon to run, play catch and goof around after elementary school let out.

Neither do I have the endless energy that I once had. Even in college, it wasn't uncommon for me to be active for an hour or more a day.

Today, I'm lucky to get an hour of solid exercise a week. Otherwise, the only time my heart rate rises is when an angry reader calls demanding a correction.

I don't think that counts.

The news gets worse. The newly released guidelines don't only deal with exercise. They also point out that I'm woefully deficient in the fruit and vegetable department as well.

It appears, at a minimum, I should be consuming four and a half cups of fruits and veggies each day. I'm lucky to hit half that amount on any given day. Strike two.

On top of that, I have no clue how many calories, carbohydrates or trans fats I'm consuming daily. I know I should keep an eye on it, but my life is consumed with too many other details. Strike three.

I called the YMCA the other day to see what it would cost me to join. The $64 monthly payments for a family membership seemed manageable, but I balked because it wouldn't be worth it if I only exercised once a week.

Perhaps we all should dig deep into our youth and relive the days when we went next door looking for someone to play with. I'm not sure how my neighbors would react, but then again, maybe they would enjoy an impromptu game of wiffle ball or hockey.

I've got to do something, because I'm on the road to physical disaster along with Tommy Thompson.

Maybe I'll think about my options a little more tonight, while I sit in my easy chair, eating a bowl of ice cream and unwinding from the long day.

Jeff Holmquist
Jeff Holmquist has been managing editor of the New Richmond News since 2004. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and business administration from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. He has previously worked as editor in Wadena, Minn.; Detroit Lakes, Minn.; Hutchinson, Minn.; and Bloomington, Minn. He also was previously owner of the Osceola Sun, Stillwater Courier and Scandia Messenger along with his wife. Together they previously founded and published The Old Times newspaper for antiques and collectibles collectors; and Up!, a Christian magazine of hope and encouragement.
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