During this political season there are an endless number of heated debates about which candidate is the best choice to make our lives better. The economy and healthcare are especially hot topics. Since this column is about fitness I will leave political opinions to other pundits. Having made my non-partisan disclaimer, let me say I feel most of what we worry and obsess over is out of our control. I also feel we should accept personal responsibility of all the factors that affect our health and wellbeing which we do have control of.
The American College of Sports Medicine identifies numerous health risk factors that determine our state of health and fitness. These include heredity, age, smoking, a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, high fasting blood glucose, high cholesterol (LDL) and high blood pressure. Except for age and heredity, most of these health risk factors are controllable. We can’t pick our parents, and we can’t roll back our age, but most other health risk factors can be controlled through exercise, nutrition and lifestyle choices we make.
When I think of the irony of what we should be concerned with and what we actually are concerned with, it reminds me of a comedy skit from the late 80’s with Arsenio Hall. He would list curiosities he called “things that make you go hmmm…” Here are a few examples of the things that make me go hmmm, and demonstrate how our priorities are viewed in the wrong perspective.
I remember talking to a lady a few years ago who was very concerned and worried about the anthrax scare. Knowing that she was a heavy smoker (over a pack a day) I pondered over her priorities. I don’t know if anyone ever died from an anthrax terrorist act, but I do know close to 400,000 people a year die from cigarettes. Over 1,000 will die today from smoking-related diseases. The sad irony is this is a legal product. It is sold to people who are so addicted that they still buy the product even after being told by the seller they could die from using it. These same people forego exercising, which has been proven to improve our health, increase energy, and longevity, and reap all these benefits for only 30 minutes a day.
Over the past few decades our society has gone from being active most of the time to one that is increasingly sedentary. Michael Joyner, a physiologist at the Mayo Clinic, stated in the Journal of Physiology that one way to deal with the problem is to make physical inactivity a mainstream medical diagnosis. It’s one of the most common preventable causes of illness and death, responsible for 1 in 10 deaths worldwide. Inactivity is linked to heart disease, diabetes, and some types of cancer.
Isn’t it ironic that one of the world’s biggest health concerns is hunger while one of the United States biggest health and societal problems is obesity? Nearly one third of the world’s population is either starving or overfed! Worldwide, over 6 million people die annually from starvation. In America, nearly 400,000 die annually from obesity related diseases and spend over $36 billion in medical costs trying to cure problems created from our lifestyle choices.
According to a new study released this month, the adult obesity rate in Georgia could reach 53.6 percent by 2030 and related health care costs could climb by 24.3 percent. If BMIs (Body Mass Index) were lowered by 5 percent, Georgia could save 7.7 percent in health care costs, which would equate to savings of over 22 and a half billion dollars. The number of Georgia residents who could be spared from developing new cases of major obesity-related diseases includes:
“238,019 people could be spared from type 2 diabetes,
“185,409 from coronary heart disease and stroke,
“184,624 from hypertension,
“108,753 from arthritis, and
“12,073 from obesity-related cancer.
These major health concerns can not be resolved at the voting booth. Only our individual desire to improve will make a significant difference. Taking responsibility for your health will be one of the most important life changing choices you will make.
So, on Election Day, be sure and exercise your right to vote but remember your right and privilege to exercise!
Perry Buchanan, owner of PT Gym, is certified as Health Fitness Specialist through the American College of Sports Medicine and has been in the fitness industry for over 30 years.