Over dinner with friends the other night, we ended up discussing the increase in American obesity. The majority of people attribute the alarming rise in obesity to processed foods and poor eating habits, and although there is no doubt this is true, it is only half of the story. Ask yourself this, when I was a child how much time did I spend playing outside with friends after school, on weekends, or in general. I remember growing up as kid in the Dominican Republic. The long hours I spent with my sisters and all the neighborhood kids running around or swimming in the river until our fingers turned into prunes. All the practice time I spent preparing for volleyball tournaments and riding our BMX bikes everywhere we went. Jumping rope in front of our Bronx apartment complex and just being outdoors enjoying life to the fullest.
The same processed foods, widely available today were also available back when we were growing up. All the sugar-loaded cereals, sodas, juices, fried foods, have all been around for years. What has changed is our activity level, which can greatly be attributed to todays technology. Social networking, computers, video games, and all the things we have grown so accustomed to, although they make our lives more convenient, have also made us less physically active.
Now, I'm not saying that as long as you are active you can eat junk! But, diet and physical activity definitely play an equally important role in our overall health. What we must do, is find ways to incorporate physical activity and exercise into our daily lives again.
If you are a parent, how can you help your children to becoming more active, as you were? How can you, yourself, become more active? Can you put aside 30 mins of the day for yourself? Can you go out for a walk or a run around your neighbourhood? Will you make an effort to go to your local gym for a cardio group class, or take up resistance training? It all starts with you! You need to make the effort to start living a healthier lifestyle.
It happens to the best of us, we get busy. I work 12 hour nights and often don't have the time to make it into my favourite gym. But here is a little trick. Anytime, during work, at home, wherever, throughout the day and multiple times a day, I will take 5-10 minutes and just drop and do 20 push-ups, 20 sit-ups, 20 jumping jacks, whatever. I go full out for at least 5 minute. Are you telling me you can't find 5 minutes, couple times a day, to get your blood flowing and your heart pumping? Everything makes a difference, some exercise is better than none. See where you can improve in your diet and training. Set goals for yourself and stay focused. You are not responsible to change the world, but you are responsible for YOU!