Entering July nearly 4 months after this pandemic started - we still don’t have a clear cut vision of what it will take for gym and fitness centers to open up.
Those strength gains from months past are slowly dwindling down, that cardiovascular capacity is dropping as we find ourselves stuck in a loop trying to find the best ways to keep ourselves healthy and strong.
Today’s post will be more of a reflection of the current zeitgeist. An exploration of ideas surrounding health and fitness in our country and how it’s become a non-essential place of business.
How health looks in America
Let’s take a look at some straight up facts from health agencies to help guide this discussion of what is essential or not.
According to the CDC in 2020 42% of adults are now considered obese. The prevalence of severe obesity is highest in people aged 40-59.
We are quickly approaching a country where half of our people are obese. This has been rising over the years and is up from 30.5% in 2000. In 20 years we’ve added a hefty amount of weight as a country where bad habits, poor exercise and nutrition has taken its hold on 10% more people countrywide.
According to another study by the commonwealth fund done in 2015 found that within the high income countries (Australia, Canada, France, Germany, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the Netherlands) the United states has an obesity rate twice as high as the average rate from these countries.
According to this study the United States also spends more on health yet has the lowest life expectancy within 11 other nations.
The United States also has the highest prevalence of Chronic disease. Chronic disease is defined as joint pain or arthritis, asthma, chronic lung disease, diabetes, heart disease including hypertension/high blood pressure. The average rate for nations is 17.5% of the population whereas America sits on top of the mountain at 28% of the population living with at least 2 chronic diseases.
As a fitness and nutrition professional who’s top priority is to stay healthy and help others find a healthy life - these numbers are alarming.
It’s actually quite embarrassing to me to see this be the reality of our situation. Health is not a priority as it’s often pushed to the side by individuals as well as government bodies.
Education and support are vital
I think if you ask anyone about the importance of fitness and nutrition, most people would be able to understand that with gained weight comes problems of cholesterol, high blood pressure, as well as chronic disease mentioned above like joint pain.
Most people know “I should really eat and exercise more”. Our bodies don’t lie to us and they let us know when we are not treating it great. When you wake up with pains in different joints, lose your breath when you walk up steps or promise to start your diet “tomorrow” - you are most definitely aware of the role of health in your life.
But really - do you know the impact of health and nutrition on your body? Do we as a collective truly care about what the future will bring if we don’t mind our movement and eat well?
According to those numbers mentioned above, I would argue that we do not know.
Exercise and nutrition have been stated to be the most effective “pill” that you can take to help with longevity and overall quality of life. Here is a small list of the benefits of exercise (many of which I hope my readers know already!)
Helps you control your weight
Reduce risk of heart disease
Help body manage blood sugar and insulin levels
Help you quit smoking
Improve mental health and mood
Help keep you thinking, learning and sharpens your judgement skills as you age
Strengthen bones and muscles
Reduce risk of some cancers
Reduce risk of falls (as you age)
Improve sexual health
Increase chance of living longer
The list can truly go on and on - the benefits to a healthy lifestyle is life-changing.
What’s the problem then? Why are we getting worse year after year with our health?
I believe that it’s the lack of quality support and education for those families who are stuck eating their TV dinners, fast food, and limited movement outside of walking to and from their car.
Some would argue that this responsibility is put on the individual - we are a nation of individualists and people may exercise their RIGHT to stay unhealthy and die at an earlier age. That is a choice and one that I cannot argue with.
However I do believe that solid nutritional and exercise support can help teach people how to make positive changes in their life that works within their current life situation.
When health becomes ESSENTIAL is when the greater masses begin to follow the lead.
We are told fitness is NOT essential
As I write this on July 1st in New York we are currently battling this Covid-19 pandemic. This virus has sunk its teeth into the world and has impacted businesses across the board. Phase 4 was supposed to be the time when fitness centers would be able to open and allow people to come back for exercise.
As of last week, gyms were moved from this phase 4 of reopening where the governor has been quoted “gyms will be closed indefinitely” until a reopening strategy can be found, or a vaccine. This might not be until January of 2021, another 6 months away.
From a personal standpoint - I really think this is not the right course of action since this impacts me directly. Not being able to train people is the foundation of my personal income. Like many others during this pandemic, the quarantine is not good for business.
Keeping gyms closed is considered a safety option - one that we need to follow in order to stop the spread of the virus.
However I’d argue that this is actually putting health and wellness to the back of the room; shutting down people’s ability to regain control of their bad habits. I also believe that this says a lot about what our priorities are as a governing state body.
Why fitness needs to be essential
Covid-19 prey on those that have underlying conditions. A quick search will find you information that those who are immune compromised are those that will most likely need some hospitalization due to this virus.
Some of the conditions that have been found to be correlated with hospital visits and deaths are the following:
Wait a second….aren’t those the factors that are most impacted by fitness and nutrition?
Is this some kind of opposite world that we live in - don’t we know that fitness and nutrition can have a positive impact on all 3 of those conditions?
I must be going crazy because of how clear that looks to me and how clear we have our priorities backwards.
Exercise and nutrition is the best medicine to help improve those conditions. A pill will only mask the symptoms and not attack the underlying issue. We are so quick to look for that easy fix, take that pill and be done with worrying about high blood pressure. Some again would say this is personal responsibility which I do agree with to a certain extent. At some point though the culture has deemed fitness and nutrition as something less important because it takes time to change.
Just to get super speculative for a second - do you think it’s odd that fitness centers are one of the last things to reopen? One of the places that can help people stave off this virus? Is it easier for governing bodies to have a state or nation of sick, depleted people who are caught in a pill cycle of masking one symptom after the other?
Is big pharma making too much money to ever want things to change?
I see people get stuck in this cycle all the time; you have an ailment, you get something prescribed to take, you have side effects, you get another pill to numb those side effects, that pill has side effects, you take another pill to mask that….the loop goes round and round.
It’s just something that is interesting to think about - are there underlying intentions? I won’t push this any further and leave that up to you to think about more deeply!
Make your fitness and health essential
For better or worse - no one is going to hold your hand and tell you what you should be doing. Right now we are facing a statewide issue of keeping gyms closed for months on end with no real plan to get things reopened.
Your health and fitness can’t wait for that - we need to help protect ourselves against this virus as well as a multitude of other issues that will surely arise after months of poor nutrition choices and lack of exercise.
I know many of you reading this already have this lifestyle set in place and have adapted to the inability to go into a gym and lift some heavy weights! Exercise doesn’t need equipment and it doesn’t need to be inside one building 3-5x a week. Exercise and nutrition happen on an everyday basis - and everyday is vital to help you to not become one of the statistics mentioned above.
Work with us!
Here at Forever Fit Method we provide nutrition coaching as well as exercise programming. We’ve decided to include this service to better adapt to the current situation of many people being limited with equipment and who lack the ability to do this all on their own.
If you are interested we have 4 open spots for 1 on 1 nutrition coaching that will work adjacent to a fitness program designed specifically for you.
Regardless of what our state government is forcing us to adapt to during a time of a health crisis - it’s on you to stay healthy and stay strong. Feel free to send an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how we can help you navigate this time and come out of it stronger, and healthier than before.
If the state doesn’t think your fitness is essential then it’s time for you to MAKE IT ESSENTIAL!