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Where’s the health and fitness revolution?

With underlying health issues a big determining factor for hospitalization for covid-19, where’s the proactivity?

Underlying health issues isn’t a new compounding factor with disease, it’s always been there.

I’m really quite interested to see how we, traditionally resilient and adaptable Americans, are going to respond to our current plight with COVID-19. Obviously I’ve been paying attention since I’m in the industry. From a business and industry standpoint it is really forcing fitness professionals to adapt and overcome the shutting down of fitness facilities, which is insanely idiotic if you really think about it. So the gym owners, personal trainers, and other staff are really getting hit hard. Because of this, many gym-goers were either left to figure it out on their own or join an online training community. If you’re established in online training, perhaps it was your best year ever. If you’re an equipment distributor like Peloton, business has been REAL good. Personally, I still can’t fathom how people will spend thousands of dollars on an exercise bike that is very limiting in what it’ll provide you physiologically speaking. But, different strokes for different folks I guess. If they will consistently use that thing for years on end, then the investment is worth it. Excuse my cynicism however, when I know it’s highly likely going to become a dirty laundry collector in the coming months. 

Is change really hard?

Change psychology is really quite fascinating. I’ve long been interested in how some people are able to make a split second decision to change and then never turn back, while others it takes a near death experience to wake them up to make changes. Nowadays there’s a new kid on the block influencing change, and that’s the government. What’s really fascinating is the number of people who all of the sudden decided to follow orders to wear a mask, use excessive amounts of hand sanitizer, and stay away from other humans, all of which really dulls the human experience. Yet changing one’s eating habits and exercising more still hasn’t made the list of adopted changes for most people. In fact, it’s getting worse! Let’s go over some data to get you at least thinking and perhaps give a differing perspective.

  • The prevalence of obesity was 42.4% in 2017~2018.
  • 71.6% of adults 20 years of age and older are overweight.
  • From 1999–2000 through 2017–2018, the prevalence of obesity increased from 30.5% to 42.4%, and the prevalence of severe obesity increased from 4.7% to 9.2%.
  • Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer that are some of the leading causes of preventable, premature death. 
  • The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the United States was $147 billion in 2008 US dollars; the medical cost for people who have obesity was $1,429 higher than those of normal weight. This number is 13 years old!
  • 655,000 Americans die annually from heart disease.
  • 600,000 Americans die of cancer each year.
  • ~80,000 American die of diabetes every year.
  • 94% of COVID-19 deaths in the US had underlying health conditions contributing to the death, not death just from COVID-19
  • ~300,000 deaths have been attributed to COVID-19 in 2020.

Read through those numbers again. I may come across as insensitive, but try to leave emotion out of this and try to be a bit more objective. Remember, the mortality rate for all homo sapiens is 100%.

I’m no mathematician, but if you add up just the top 3 lifestyle related diseases (heart disease, cancer, diabetes) you get 1,335,000 deaths annually in the US. Let’s take that another step, rough estimates are saying that 300,000 people died of COVID-19 in 2020, which is roughly 1/4 of the deaths from the big 3 lifestyle related diseases deaths. How bout we go another step further yet. If 94% of the 300,000 COVID-19 deaths have underlying health conditions contributing to their death, that means 18,000 deaths occurred from Americans with no underlying health conditions. I don’t know about you, but this basic critical thinking doesn’t get many headlines and perhaps my math is off a little bit, but maybe, just maybe, I can get you thinking that COVID-19 may not be as deadly as advertised. And maybe, just maybe, dear reader, you’ll begin to realize the deadliness of the BIG 3, and the risk factors for those are largely in your control with the decisions you make daily about your health and fitness. Oh, and guess what!? You don’t have to wear a mask, socially distance, and get needles stuck in your arm to become “more resilient” to those risk factors.

With all of the above mentioned information, a government mandated exercise and nutrition order to achieve a healthier, less susceptible population would at least make some sense, but do you think people would go for that? The nerve right!? How infringing that would be on people’s freedoms! Just how shaming that would all be to the majority of Americans. Imagine with me for a second if everyone had to step on an Inbody machine to have their body composition assessed and a government health and fitness professional mandated that you had to step on every 90 days and show progress towards a healthier body composition. You were required to exercise 5 days per week and eat in a well balanced caloric deficit. You’d be absolutely pissed at the lack of your own freedom in that process, but………..then it began to work. After a few weeks you began feeling better and moving better. Your immune system enhanced itself and began fighting off would be viruses and lessened the blow of sickness in your life. That lethargic body you once had is feeling energized and getting outside and doing things you once loved but put aside simply because you neglected your health. As a side benefit you found yourself less depressed and anxious day in and day out and empowered. The world was seemingly at your fingertips with all sorts of other obstacles to conquer!

No, instead we wear a mask, apply “hand sanny,” miss out on huge life events in the name of social distancing, and stick needles in our arms, all of which are debatable if they are actually helping at all. 

Let’s go people. 

So now what?

Perhaps I’ve got you thinking. You’re either in a camp A and flipping me off right now, camp B and agreeing with everything I’m saying, or camp C where you were once part of camp A and think there’s a shred of accuracy in what I’m saying.

Here’s a few things you can do to break free from camp A’s angry people.

  1. Hang around people who have health and fitness figured out. Birds of a feather flock together, and if you’re mind is twisted in a knot about how to lead a healthy lifestyle, start by hanging around people who make good choices in this department.
  2. Take a page out of the ACSM’s and the CDC’s exercise recommendations: “all healthy adults aged 18-65 yr should participate in moderate intensity aerobic physical activity for a minimum of 30 minutes on 5 days per week, or vigorous intensity for a minimum of 20 minutes on 3 days per week. Every adult should perform activities that maintain or increase muscular strength for a minimum of 2 days per week.” Don’t overcomplicate this. 
  3. Take your bodyweight and multiply it x 10 to get yourself into a caloric deficit if you’re overweight. Heck, you don’t even have to worry about quality of food here yet. Just get in deficit to get the needle moving. Of course, quality of intake matters a great deal over time, but for God’s sakes just get started.
  4. Find a purpose outside of yourself to fight for. If living longer, feeling better, and getting more out of life isn’t a strong enough purpose for yourself, do it for a loved one who needs you to do better.
  5. Become a learner and begin reading empowering books on mindset, leadership, and stories of overcoming adversity.
  6. Think critically of what you see on main stream media. Don’t just blindly take it as fact. They just want clicks and would rather manipulate you rather than empower you to think for yourself.
  7. Say this with me, “I’m worth it and am capable of great things with my health!”