Exercise can do it all

By Liz Montes

Exercise can do it all; if you let it and if, you do it.

As I’m sure you know by now, exercise has incredible benefits and it can be at reach for all of us. It benefits the entire body system in numerous ways. It improves memory and concentration, it aids with heart disease by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, helps us to sleep better, aids with erectile dysfunction, helps with depression and diabetes and can even help raise low libidos. That alone calls for reason to get out and at least walk. And, more studies indicate that even for some cancers like colon and breast cancer, exercise can be a deterrent.

Business Insider reports that the United States currently spends more than US$2.7 trillion dollars, that’s 17 percent of GDP, on its health care system. This is a system set up to treat diseases. It runs more and even more tests, repeats tests, and prescribes more procedures and more medicines. This is a country that spends more than US$350 billion annually on prescription drugs. The average 80- year- old takes eight medications. Doesn’t it seem logical to encourage preventative measures, like exercise?

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on global health issues reports that Japan on the other hand spends about US$5,000 per person less, than the United States and has the highest life expectancy. The OECD reports that the U.S. spends approximately US$8,508 per person that’s US$2,800 higher than the next big spenders, Norway and Switzerland.

Despite outspending any other country in health care, the United States is currently ranked 28th in life expectancy.

Seventy percent of Americans are overweight, 30 percent are obese, and very few exercise, the recommended 150 minutes per week recommended by the American Heart Association. Lack of movement and fitness is an epidemic in the U.S. If we can solve the overweight/obesity problem we would see a dramatic reduction of health care costs.

How do we get people to exercise? It shouldn’t be too difficult, only because there are fortunately hundreds and hundreds of choices and numerous ways to exercise. There must be an exercise out there for everyone. There are even hundreds of applications to chose from that you can download on your computer or phone. Some of these applications can get you going, they are easy and have great incentives built in. Even high schools are looking at other ways to incentivize exercise, i.e., archery, bowling, building a garden, etc. You don’t have to run a marathon; you don’t have to run at all. Just move.

Perhaps we could lower health care premiums based on activity levels. The more you do the less you have to pay. Medical checkups could include monitoring of activity levels. We monitor heart rates and blood pressure it seems a good idea.

Of course, no one can promise that because we exercise we won’t get sick. There are other factors that play into our overall health, genetics, lifestyle, work place environment, excessive alcohol consumption, tobacco use, etc.

Physical Education classes in grade and high schools in the U.S. seem to be heading the call. The “latest” in PE classes are the students being able to choose how and what they want to play. PE teachers are working hard to gear classes to everyone, not just the most athletic students. There are personal fitness plans for the students. They focus and appeal to the individual students strengths. There are even contests and rewards. Many advocates see this new form of physical education classes as the key to influence behavior early in the student’s life. Get them to enjoy it, move, and make it a lifetime habit. There are even classes in fly-fishing, yoga, and rock climbing. Any activity that the student can think of the school will try to provide it.

This is a great idea. And, yes perhaps, this is the way we can change the habits of the sedentary lifestyle deeply rooted in our society.


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