Health and Fitness Statistics

BeachI promised you guys lots of personal training insight once I started studying for my NASM recertification, and guess what… My books just arrived! So, being the dedicated professional I am, I hightailed it straight to the beach to begin studying. (I know, I know… I work way too hard to bring you guys mind-body-spirit info…)

Sigh… It’s a rough job, but somebody has to do it!! ;)

I just finished Chapter One (Scientific Rationale for Integrated Training) and there’s a ton of interesting statistics that caught my eye! The lists below come straight from the National Academy of Sports Medicine textbook (parenthetical numbers correspond to pages in the 4th edition; footnotes reference the text’s original source).


  • Chronic diseases [such as asthma, cancer, diabetes and heart disease] have become the leading cause of death and disability in the United States, accounting for 70% of deaths in the United States; most chronic diseases are preventable and manageable through early detection, treatment and healthy living (p. 5)
  • [In 2003] Of the leading causes of death in the United States, 57% were caused by cardiovascular disease and cancer, and nearly 80% of these deaths could have been prevented if a healthy lifestyle was followed (p. 5)[1. Hoyert, D.L., Kung, H.C. & Smith, B.L. (2005). Deaths: Preliminary Data for 2003. National Vital Statistics Report, 53(1), p. 1-48.]
  • 75 cents of every dollar spent on health care, or about $1.7 trillion annually, goes towards treating chronic illness (p. 5)
  • In 2003 musculoskeletal symptoms [which can be the result of unnatural posture, caused by improper sitting] were the number two reason for physician visits […] The monetary value of lost work time as a result of these musculoskeletal injuries was estimated to be approximately $120 billion (p. 7)[6. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2005 Dec. 15). Workplace injuries and illnesses in 2004.]

Funny stuff

  • In the 1960s, women’s fitness centers were sometimes called ‘figure salons.’ Most included a rolling machine, used to ‘roll away fat’, and an electronic vibrating belt, designed to ‘jiggle the fat from the thighs’ (p. 4).

Get up and move! (Slowly…)

(This idea of ‘nonfunctional people’ made me think of our Poisonous Food post!)

  • Today’s client is not ready to begin physical activity at the same level that a typical client could 20 or 30 years ago (p. 8). In the first 6 weeks of one study that focused on training sedentary adults, there was a 50 to 90% injury rate (p. 7)[9. Jones, B.H., Cowan, D.N. & Knapik, J. (1994). Exercise, Training and Injuries. Sports Medicine, 18(3), p. 202-14.]

Lessons Learned

After completing Chapter One, I have a renewed appreciation for the importance of stabilization training – the first phase of training where you work on muscular endurance (the muscle’s ability to contract for an extended period of time) and neuromuscular efficiency (the ability of the neuromuscular system to enable all muscles to efficiently work together in all planes of motion). Basically: balance work. The goal is to increase your client’s ability to stabilize joints and maintain optimal posture (p. 10). From my experience, clients aren’t usually too psyched about this phase (and confession: in the past I sometimes rushed through it!), but given how deconditioned people are nowadays, this training stage is more important than ever (especially when it comes to preventing injuries)!

I’ll talk more about the Stabilization Phase in upcoming posts. Until then, let me know if you have any questions!


Clark, M.A., Lucett, S.C. & Sutton, B.G. (2012). NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training (4th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

What do you think of these statistics? Surprising or what you expected?



  1. Bethany says

    Given that I’m a klutz, I think I’m really in need of some stabilization training. At the beach, naturally. :)

  2. says

    These are some crazy statistics!! The numbers are SO high! 66% of Americans over the age of 20 are overweight??!! This makes me appreciate every small change that I have made in the last 12 years… :)

  3. says

    Okay these stats really make me want to dive into personal training…It’s actually something I’ve thought about for a while now, but I don’t know how I would get started with it or where it would take me since I don’t work in that field right now, you know?

    • says

      It’s really, really interesting and such a fun job! NASM has a 17% off sale on study materials in honor of st patrick’s day :) you could always study now and then use your certification later… you just need to do continuing education credits every two years :)

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