The statistics show that for almost every state in the United States the population is getting over weight. This is blamed on many factors; fast food, more meals at restaurants somewhat connected to working longer hours with both mothers and fathers working. This leads to less time to exercise and more calorie intake.
People of all ages but especially young people are spending more time on computers inside, less time outside in physical activities. Kids don’t walk to school anymore, they are all bused or driven to school. Even worse they are driven to the bus stop, even if it is at the end of their driveway! With all these statistics on the population growing heavier and less healthy one would think there would be more content online showing people how to get more exercise.
Much work could be done on getting people to eat healthy, or eat less, stop the super size craze but really people would be healthier no matter what they eat if they got the proper amount of exercise. I have to be honest, I get bored going to a gym and lifting weights, running around a small track, or using machines doing reps sharing sweat with a bunch of strangers. This also costs money for memberships and it takes effort to plan to go to the gym, and follow through. The private gyms appear to be over crowded at the times I want to go, and low cost municipal facilities are few and far between.
I admit I could be in better shape myself, my long work hours and a longer drive to and from work than I would like eats up a lot of time I could (should) be exercising. So how does one get people motivated to exercise more? With the high health care costs and the projections of the over weight population growing driving up health care even further, one would thing the government would be promoting ways for people to get exercise.
Funding for things like rails to trails by government is abysmal. This is where tax dollars should be going rather than paying politicians raises when nobody else is getting them, premium health care, and golden parachutes for minimal time in office. Taxes should pay for things that benefit society. There is a rail trail in Hamburg Michigan that got paved in the last couple of years. People are using it, and it is a big benefit to the area. Problem is it ends abruptly in Pinckney Michigan back to unimproved dirt and loose gravel, which not even is good for mountain bikes. Only horseback riders appear to benefit from the loose gravel trail. This trail if improved and paved all the way to Stockbridge Mi would make the trail a true resource for recreation and exercise year round. Very short sighted local and state governments on where to spend scarce tax dollars. There is a fantastic rail to trail system in Midland Michigan if you want to check out a long paved trail. Unfortunately this is far from a large population center like the Hamburg area – close to Detroit.
Looking online, I found very little information connecting health, exercise and more importantly, fun ways of getting exercise. There is virtually no content connecting bike riding, kayaking, roller blade, cross country skiing, snow shoeing, ice skating with health and weight loss. With the current health care crisis I find this lack of content very strange.
There are many more sports than I mentioned above that could be included. Many of those I listed can be started by people who are overweight, out of shape, or older in age, and they are fun to do. Not like dragging yourself to the gym, they get people active and many times the activities don’t feel like exercise. Calories can be burned without it feeling like torture or a lot of work.
Kayaking for instance is a sport open for many people with walking disabilities. If you have lost your ability to walk but still have upper body capability you can kayak and get exercise, enjoying yourself without having the disability slow you down. There are certified instructors available to show disabled people how to get into kayaking safely. Ann Arbor Michigan along the Huron River has been offering these types of clinics though local paddling groups. The Great Lakes Paddlers website is one of many resources to find the on water or in pool classes.
With anything it does take some effort to start something new. For kayaking it took me a little while to be comfortable sitting in one place for extended periods of time, but one once I got used to it, I don’t even think about it now. A comfortable seat and the right kayak are important. Don’t give up on one try or one kayak. Biking you have to get used to being on the seat, again the right fitting bike and seat are important. My rear end does need a couple of rides every year to get used to the seat. The benefits from biking at a good pace are great. You do need to push yourself a little on a bike to get your heart rate up. I found an hour bike ride several times a week does wonders on my weight and mental outlook – a side benefit of exercise is it mentally makes you feel better, removes stress. I got though a couple of divorces by bike riding.
Bottom line is get out there and do something. Get off the couch, away from the sports TV and the computer games. Your body will thank you. Just maybe you will find you are not going to the doctor as much, and calling in sick as much. If you do call in sick it will be to kayak, bike, or ski on a perfect day (just don’t tell your boss if you’re not lucky
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