For a long time now we have all been playing defense against this Coronavirus, we started by washing our hands extra, we avoided commonly touched surfaces, we cleaned things more than we usually would have. Then we all stayed home, we closed our business, we didn’t see our families or loved ones. We understood why, and we understood what the purpose was, and we did it. Now when we go out in public and we can’t maintain a good distance from everyone around us we wear something to cover our face, we are doing this to defend ourselves, our families, and our communities, and don’t get me wrong we need to continue doing this. However, we need to do more, much more!
We need to start playing offense, we cannot win the battle, or whatever the next one to come will be, by only playing defense. You can look at the numbers for this virus (and many others) however you want, but no matter what, a vast majority of the people who were made severely ill or worse lost their lives, were dealing with preventable medical conditions. Specifically diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. At one point in time, a study quoted in the New York Times found that 94% of those hospitalized with COVID-19 had a chronic health issue that was either, diabetes, hypertension, or obesity. My question is when are we going to start to address this? How long until we admit that in this country we are spending too much time chasing our tails as a health care system when the answer to so many of our problems is right in front of us and starts with our lifestyle. Just this past week the CDC lowered the level of obesity they felt put individuals at higher risk for COVID-19, the real story is that no level should be acceptable.
We need to start addressing this issue, and we need to start now. This is not something that can wait until the pandemic is over, or things lighten up. We need to look to take actionable steps now. We need to start with diet because what they say is true, you can’t out-exercise your diet. This doesn’t need to be a crazy restrictive diet, but it also should be a large and meaningful change. We need to decrease our consumption of processed foods and replace that with vegetables and fruits. You’ll notice that I reversed the wording there from the common “fruits and vegetables”, that’s not by accident. We need to be eating more vegetables than fruits. So I challenge you to start today, with that small change.
Next let’s try and stop making sweets (cookies, candy, ice cream…) a reward for kids. They aren’t a bad thing, and we don’t need to get rid of them, and they can definitely be a great treat, but that association with sweet food as a reward is not a good long term solution. I will admit I am the number 1 offender here, and I need to be better at this with our kids.
Speaking of kids, we need to do something as a society to work on the problem of childhood obesity. I just finished reading a study from The European Society of Cardiology that concluded, “evidence for associations between low levels of cardiorespiratory fitness and obesity with later risk of chronic disability due to cardiovascular disease. Preventive actions may begin at young ages and include the promotion of cardio-respiratory fitness and healthy body weight.” We simply cannot tolerate obesity in our childhood populations because we know what it is setting them up for later in life.
Now what about activity, yes we need to be more active, that is that. We need to understand that going to the gym for 45 min and then sitting at your desk all day is still a sedentary lifestyle. We need to stop being “too busy”, and we need to step up and do something.
I know there are other factors, I understand about genetics, and I understand that these are not easy topics to talk about, but they are topics that we need to start to address, and we need to start to take responsibility for it! You cannot change your genetics, but a healthier lifestyle will make it that much easier for your body to be in the best position possible to fight off disease and combat anything else that life may throw at it.
Anyone who knows me knows that I cannot stand when people give you a list of issues without trying to at least offer a solution. So, not wanting to be a hypocrite, here is what we are doing to help you go on the offensive:
Now that my rant is over, it is your turn, what are you going to do to put yourself in a better position to improve your health? Really I want to know so please email me firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what you are doing! We still need to play defense, but we need to start to play a strong offense now!