The average American gains 8 pounds during the six weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. That research by the National Institutes of Health recommends including exercise as part of family holiday festivities. Whether the exercise is a walk, bike ride — weather permitting — or even sledding, encouraging physical activities that can become a family tradition are important to good mental and physical health practices. Plus it could help offset that extra serving of holiday food and drinks.
More than three in five Americans are overweight or suffer from obesity. The prevalence of obesity among adults in Kansas has increased by nearly 70 percent since 1992, according to a report by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
For those who did and didn’t indulge during the holiday season — or simply count themselves among those who want to get healthier — the opportunity to get healthy awaits at a number of area locations. Besides the Ottawa Community Recreation Center/Goppert Building, which offers free exercise equipment and a walking track for users at its 705 W. 15th Street facility, Ottawa also has GreatLife Golf & Fitness, 1001 E. Logan St., as well as GreatLife’s downtown fitness center at 216 S. Main St., Ottawa Nautilus Fitness Center, 326 S. Main St., and Ottawa’s Jazzercise Fitness Center, 205 S. Main St. Of course, the Ottawa Library offers free check out of fitness videos for the public to use at home, too.
Each of us must be accountable for our own health. The best way to stay healthy and keep our medical bills to a minimum is to participate in healthful activities that extend our lives, rather than shortening them. Those life-extending activities include eating healthful foods in the appropriate amounts, being consistently physically active and avoiding a sedentary lifestyle. A sedentary lifestyle actually can shorten a person’s life. Whether living healthier was at the top of Americans’ New Year’s resolutions list or some other priority ranked higher, it is clear being healthy is key to enjoying all other aspects of life.
Each person is in control of what food or other items goes into their own mouths. By “owning” that behavior, and the consequences it brings, we each can get on a path to better health.
Better health costs less and improves life expectancy — plus it makes people happier. Now is the time to establish new healthful habits leading to a “new normal” lifestyle that lengthens life to enjoy even more holidays into the future.
— Jeanny Sharp, editor and publisher