America’s collective waistline has been growing at an alarming rate for the past 20 years. The 2010 Centers for Disease Control’s statistics show every single state has an obesity rate of at least 20 percent with some as high as 32 percent. If you live in Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas or West Virginia, about one in every three people you see will be obese.
Wikipedia defines obesity as a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may have an adverse effect on health, leading to reduced life expectancy and/or increased health problems. Common diseases associated with obesity include heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, cancer and osteoarthritis. A body mass index (BMI) of over 30 generally indicates obesity.
Not surprisingly, the incidence of inactivity and diabetes increases right along with obesity levels, with many southern states topping the list in both categories. And a recent study published by the International Journal of Epidemiology shows the number of years living with obesity is directly associated with mortality risk. The duration of obesity was more important in predicting mortality than any one single BMI measurement.
It’s clear that as a country we need to get control of this problem, but where have we gone wrong and what can we do to become healthier? Sedentary lifestyles and easy access to unhealthy foods are clearly contributors to the problem. In today’s chaotic world, it has become increasingly difficult to maintain discipline with a healthy diet and exercise. Yet small, incremental improvements are possible and these ideas can help get us headed in the right direction.
Switch up Your Work Station
If you have a desk job, you know how difficult it can be to move around, especially if you are on the telephone all day or ‘in the zone’ working on a project. An easy way to combat this problem is to swap your chair for a giant exercise ball for a few hours a day. Slouching is significantly more difficult on an exercise ball, so your muscles will need to work harder to keep your spine erect. Your posture will improve and you will burn more calories at the same time!
You can also consider investing in a treadmill work station. The goal with these is not to run 6 miles per hour while trying to type up an expense report. It’s more like a 1.5 – 2.0 miles per hour stroll, just enough to keep the calories burning throughout the day. That may not sound like much, but if you work on a treadmill desk for only half the day, you will walk about eight miles by lunch time! Suggest adding a few treadmill work stations to your employer and who knows, maybe the company will foot the bill.
If nothing else, take advantage of your break time to walk around the block rather than hitting up the vending machine.
Put Fast Food Out of Business
Studies show it takes about 2 – 3 weeks to start new habits. If you commit to giving up fast food for at least that long, it should become much easier to skip the drive-thru. Once your taste buds adjust, you may find the greasy and salty fast food is not very appetizing anyway. Find some healthy recipes you can whip up at home for work lunches, and keep fresh fruits and veggies washed up and ready for easy snacks.
Hold Yourself Accountable
In today’s techie world, you can no doubt find dozens of free or low-cost apps and programs that will allow you to log your calories and workouts. Give yourself one cheat day each week so you don’t get burned out. Why no enlist a buddy to get healthy with you?
Don’t Give Up!
Many of us just throw in the towel if we stray from our diets or otherwise slip-up. We’re only human, so let’s not be so hard on ourselves! Acknowledge what happened, consider why it happened and what you can do next time to change your behavior, and get right back on track.
Keeping yourself healthy and controlling your weight will go a long way toward helping you outlive your term life insurance policy!