Moving forward by looking back: lessons learned from long-lost lifestyles

Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2008 Aug;33(4):836-42. doi: 10.1139/H08-045.


The paper briefly reviews the status and trends in physical activity, physical inactivity, and overweight/obesity in Canada; discusses the consequences of these trends; examines evidence that our frame of reference with respect to physical activity and obesity is changing; promotes the importance of getting "back to the basics" as a strategy for enhancing childhood physical activity; and provides suggestions for future research in this area. In addressing these topics, the paper explores and contrasts the lifestyles and characteristics of Old Order Amish and Old Order Mennonite children with children exposed to contemporary modern living. This exploration is used as a model to learn from traditional lifestyles, which were comparatively active and resistant to obesity. The fitness characteristics and physical activity levels of traditional and contemporary groups are compared and demonstrate significant differences among groups. This evidence may provide important insight for informing future physical activity recommendations. Idiosyncrasies of performing research on these traditional-living groups are also provided.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / physiology
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child Behavior / physiology
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison*
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities
  • Life Style*
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Overweight / epidemiology*
  • Physical Fitness / physiology
  • Sex Distribution
  • Sports / physiology
  • Technology* / trends