Fitness Yesterday and Today

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Fitness Yesterday and Today

About 65% of Australian men and 53% of Australian women are overweight or obese. Health and fitness expert, Dr Garry Egger, says that this is because cars, remote controls, computers and other forms of technology have taken all the movement out of our lives.

To find out how movement levels have changed over time, Garry set up an experiment using a device called a Trackmore. Developed in Holland, the Trackmore can be strapped to the body to measure movement in three different dimensions: up and down, forwards and backwards and left and right. Garry attached Trackmores to two very different groups of men:

Group 1:
Actors at Old Sydney Town, Gosford, playing the roles of 19th century soldiers and peasants. For one week the actors lived on site, just as they would have done about 100 years ago. They did not have computers, cars or remote controls. Their activity level was high, because they had to do everything for themselves, including chopping wood and finding food.

Group 2:
Men working in modern occupations, such as accountants, computer operators and taxi drivers. For one week they went about their normal business wearing Trackmores. Their activity level was low, because they did not do any extra exercise.

All the men were asked to fill out sheets every day, noting down what time they put the Trackmores on in the morning and what time they were taken off at night. At the end of the week the data from all the Trackmores was downloaded to a computer and the results were averaged.

The Old Sydney Town group was about two and a half times more active than the modern sedentary workers were. In terms of actual energy that’s about 1,000 calories (equivalent to walking an extra ten kilometres) per day.

What to do
Garry recommends using technology to help deal with the problems that technology created. You can use a pedometer, a little device a bit like a Trackmore, to monitor your level of activity and increase it if necessary.

Further information

Dr Garry Egger started GutBusters, a scientifically based program which uses waist measurement, not weight, as an indication of fat loss in men. To contact GutBusters phone 1800 674 688, or visit their website:

Pedometers are available at electronics stores for about $45 each.

Old Sydney Town
Pacific Highway
Phone: (02) 4340 1104
Fax: (02) 4340 1077

Acknowledgments and further reading

Garry Egger would like to acknowledge the work of graduate student Neeltje Vogels from Maastricht in Holland in this fitness study. A full report of the study will be published in mid December in the Medical Journal of Australia. For more details see the website: or phone (02) 9954 8666.