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Going Green With Health and Fitness?

November 13, 2009 0 Comments

getting-your-friends-to-go-greenGoing Green” appears to be one of, if not the mantra of the new century.  Companies worldwide are claiming to cut back on waste production, energy costs, and finding newer Earth friendly solutions for conducting business in today’s eco-conscious world.  “Going Green” initiatives began in response to the growing concern for the health of the Earth and its environment as a result of the adverse changes occurring to the planet, whether caused by man, natural causes, or some combination of both.  But what about a growing concern for the health of the population? Is it just not that important to us? Do we care more about the environment we live in as opposed to being around to actually enjoy it? Or is it we just don’t understand enough the actual long term cost of an unhealthy life and its impact on us and the Earth? I believe the latter to be the truest.

Fitness is defined as a state of health, characteristics, symptoms and behaviors enabling a person to have the highest quality of lifeThe amazing thing about fitness is that the majority of people can obtain it.  Fitness is within everyone’s reach. All that is required is a desire to reach out, learn about it and just get started – and not for just getting ready for that vacation or reunion.

Here are some alarming statistics from the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) on what being unfit has caused in the U.S.: 13.5 million people have heart disease; 8 million people have diabetes (type II); 50 million people have high blood pressure; 121 million (2/3 of U.S. Pop.) are overweight; 60 million people (1/3 of U.S. Pop.) are obese; 250,000 hip fractures occur each year; 95,000 new cases of colon cancer each year.  The numbers are staggering, and studies provide evidence that obesity is in position to take over heart disease as the number one killer of Americans within the next few years.  The costs associated with unhealthiness however are what are even more impressive.

According to a recent study done by the CDC and the Research Triangle Institute (RTI), the health cost of obesity in the U.S. is as high as $147 billion annually. These costs include payments by Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance. Obese people spend on average $1,429 a year on medical care – 42% more then normal weight people.  Some other astounding numbers:

  • Sedentary lifestyles account for 15% of all healthcare costs and only 20-25% of the population achieves the recommended 30 minutes of daily physical activity.
  • The total healthcare costs associated with a 24 year old male tobacco user are $220,000 which breaks down to a healthcare cost of $40 per pack of cigarettes of paid for by someone besides the smoker. 23% of Americans use tobacco.
  • Obesity accounts for 12% of healthcare costs and 67% of the US population is either overweight or obese.
  • Factoring in preventable health conditions aside from smoking you have an additional 40% of healthcare costs.
  • 70% of healthcare costs are tied directly to lifestyle decisions: physical inactivity, diet, tobacco use and preventable disease.
  • 70% of deaths in America are attributable to strokes, heart attacks, diabetes and cancer, all of which are influenced very significantly by diet.

As is clearly evident, not being fit and healthy is a heavy financial burden. The majority of the population simply does not eat well, exercise, or live healthy lives because they don’t have time, or it’s too expensive, or whatever other excuses they can come up with.  The truth is that it is not that expensive, it’s a choice, and in the long run, it’ll cost you more to not accept that truth. Consider, you’ll pay more in doctor bills and health care costs because all kinds of things can go wrong when you’re not fit, such as high blood pressure, depression, etc., become more likely the less physically fit you are. Along with actual health care costs you’ll dump more cash into medicine and treatment costs because things like cold medicine and sleeping pills are more common among non-fit people. You’ll pay more for clothes that look just as good, but in a larger size. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Health care is expensive.  Premiums for medical coverage are at an all time high.  The cost of medications, treatments, hospitalization, therapies, etc, is rising because of the outrageous numbers of unhealthy people in this country.  They are putting an overload and demand on the system resulting in higher costs for everyone.   Healthy and fit individuals are not the cause of expensive health care.   Common sense tells us that if this country were more health conscious, more concerned with the foods we eat, more concerned with our fitness level, more concerned with the quality of our lives, we would all benefit.  Health care costs would begin to decrease, there would less demand on emergency rooms and hospitals, less prescription drugs prescribed for illness and disease, and much more.

What can “going green” with fitness do for you? Fitness keeps muscles strong and joints moving; increases energy levels and helps control weight; improves self image and psychological well-being; boosts your mood, decreases stress and depression; slows down the aging process and “adds life to your years, and years to your life”; reduces coronary risk and cholesterol; increases metabolic function, bone density and improves posture and spinal health; improves cardiovascular conditioning and endurance, aerobic capacity, flexibility and improved body composition; helps prevent injuries and back problems; enhances work, recreation and sports performance; promotes restful sleep and overall quality of life.

The bottom line is that the majority of health related illness and disease is preventable by taking control of your life.  By taking responsibility for your health, wellness and quality of life before it is too late.   Adding exercise of any kind into your daily routine can begin to change your health right away.  You can change your health, fitness level and life – It is a decision.   You can decide to be unfit, unhealthy and eventually ill, or you can decide to take charge of your own destiny and become fit and healthy.

Featured in September 2009 Issue of 422 Business Advisor

About the Author:

Jeff Harrison is a fitness coach based in Pottstown, PA. He received a BS in Exercise and Sport Science from Penn State University and is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), NSCA Certified Personal Trainer (NSCA-CPT) and ACE Advanced Health and Fitness Specialist (ACE-AHFS). Jeff's articles have been published in peer-reviewed journals as well as consumer oriented websites and magazines.

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