How strongly you lean left or right politically could say something about your health

Ideally we could all find some middle ground politically and compromise on issues to help the public as a whole, but maybe polarization is actually good for our health. New research suggests that people on one end or the other of the partisan scale actually phsysically exercise more (at least in Europe), according to the […]

Ideally we could all find some middle ground politically and compromise on issues to help the public as a whole, but maybe polarization is actually good for our health.

New research suggests that people on one end or the other of the partisan scale actually phsysically exercise more (at least in Europe), according to the Huffington Post.

“Busy people at both ends of the political spectrum do not seem to have as much time for idleness,” writes a research team led by Adrian Bauman of the University of Sydney’s School of Public Health. Based on the results, centrists do more sitting, “both on the fence and elsewhere.”

Bauman’s study, published in The BMJ, used data from the Eurobarometer, a survey conducted on behalf of the European Commission. Participants (with a mean age of 46) were from 32 European nations; all indicated their political orientation on a scale of one (far left wing) to 10 (far right wing).

All participants listed their “weekly minutes of vigorous intensity activity, moderate intensity activity, and walking,” the researchers note. “These scores were summed to estimate total physical activity.” A separate question asked them to estimate “total daily minutes of sitting time.”

Based on those reports, people on the far ends of the spectrum engaged in more physical activity that those in the middle (about an hour more each week).

“Centrists and the politically uncommitted may be at greater risk of non-communicable diseases because of their inertia,” Bauman and his colleagues warn. “The politically uncommitted and centrists could consider adopting a stronger political stance for their health.”

As the Huff Post points out, this information shouldn’t really be an incentive toward extremism, but it’s a fascinating finding.

It’s interesting to consider the possibility that there could be a link between the obesity epidemic, and the apathy reflected in recent mid-term election’s low turnout rates. If Americans follow the same patterns as Europeans, those in the “mushy middle” are more likely to have mushy physiques.  The researchers compared responses from three groups of people: Those on the far left (the 6.8 percent who listed themselves as a “1” or “2”); those on the far right (“9” or “10”); and those in the center (the remainder). The two extreme groups were each comprised of around 1,900 people, while more than 17,000 placed themselves in the broad center.