Pre-Industrial Revolution vs. Current-Day Americans

Now, let me start by saying I know the information you are about to read isn’t a representation of all current-day Americans, but it paints a picture of what has happened to us as a society in general. In just a few centuries, American society has witnessed a remarkable, double-edged sword, transformation in terms of technological advancements and in lifestyle. From the pre-industrial revolution era to the digital age of today, the physical health of Americans has undergone a significant downward spiral. Let’s explore these two periods, shedding light on the impact of technology on our overall well-being.

Prior to the Industrial Revolution, physical activity was an inherent part of daily life for most Americans. Agricultural work, manual labor, housework, and transportation relied heavily on physical exertion. Physically demanding tasks like walking, carrying, lifting, pushing, pulling, and squatting were the norm. Walking 10 thousand steps daily was not a fitness goal, but an “easy day at the office”.
In stark contrast, the digital age has led to a much more sedentary lifestyle for many Americans. Extended periods of sitting in front of computers, long commutes in cars, excessive work travel, and a decrease in physically demanding jobs have significantly reduced the overall physical activity levels of the average current-day American.
These technologies that have lessened our physical demands have been life-changing to those with physical disabilities and I do not want to downplay that benefit. For some of us without physical disabilities, it has not been an advancement of our health for sure.
The pre-industrial revolution diet was primarily based on whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, grains, and lean meats. While access to food was sometimes limited, the reliance on natural, unprocessed ingredients promoted a more balanced and nutrient-rich diet.
The advent of technology has transformed the way Americans eat. Fast food, processed snacks, and convenience meals have become commonplace due to time constraints and the rise of desk-bound work environments. This shift has resulted in an increase in unhealthy dietary choices, leading to obesity and other related health issues. The poorer quality of our diet combined with the reduction in built-in physical activity is a double whammy.While pre-industrial Americans faced their own health challenges that led to early deaths, such as infectious diseases and limited access to medical care, their physically demanding lifestyles often contributed to improved cardiovascular health, better muscle mass, and overall higher fitness levels. While the limited access had its obvious drawbacks, the physically active lifestyle of individuals often mitigated certain health risks.
Our current sedentary behavior, increased screen time, and poor dietary choices have led to a rise in obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and mental health issues. While advancements in healthcare have increased life expectancy, the overall quality of life is reduced and impacted by these preventable conditions.
Medical knowledge through research was limited during pre-industrial times. Communities relied heavily on home remedies and traditional healing practices which were not based on sound evidence for sure. Today, Americans have access to a wealth of medical knowledge and advanced healthcare systems. However, the focus of our healthcare system is treating chronic illnesses and managing lifestyle-related diseases caused by our sedentary habits. The challenge lies in increasing awareness about preventive care and encouraging a shift towards healthier lifestyles. Let’s prevent rather than treat!
Sometimes I feel our system is doing this to us…
It is crucial to promote a balanced lifestyle that incorporates regular physical activity, healthy eating habits, and mindful technology use. By acknowledging and learning from the strengths and weaknesses of both eras, we can strive for a healthier future that combines the best of both worlds — leveraging technological advancements while prioritizing our physical well-being to prevent and limit lifestyle-related disease.
Gotta run,

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