Small business owners and executives, a “walking for wellness”initiative may be just the starting point needed
“Take care of your body, it’s the only place you have to live in”
What Do The Statistics Tell Us?
Obesity affects some groups more than others
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention statistics for obesity: Non-Hispanic Black adults (49.9%) had the highest age-adjusted prevalence of obesity, followed by Hispanic adults (45.6%), non-Hispanic White adults (41.4%) and non-Hispanic Asian adults (16.1%).
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention Diabetes Affects Hispanic or Latino People More
Over their lifetime, US adults overall have a 40% chance of developing type 2 diabetes. But if you’re a Hispanic or Latino adult, your chance is more than 50%, and you’re likely to develop it at a younger age. Diabetes complications also hit harder: Hispanic or Latino people have higher rates of kidney failureexternal icon caused by diabetes as well as diabetes-related vision loss and blindness.
Obesity and socioeconomic status
The association between obesity and income or educational level is complex and differs by sex and race/ethnicity.
- Overall, men and women with college degrees had lower obesity prevalence compared with those with less education.
- The same obesity and education pattern occurred among non-Hispanic White, non-Hispanic Black, and Hispanic women, and non-Hispanic White men. However, the differences were not all statistically significant. Although the difference was not statistically significant among non-Hispanic Black men, obesity prevalence increased with educational attainment. No differences in obesity prevalence by education level were noted among non-Hispanic Asian women and men and Hispanic men.
What Is Keeping Us From Optimal Health?
Why this paradox?
Getting individuals to achieve a level of wellness is at the forefront of the medical and health professional field. This is the first time where being in control of one’s health and investing time and money to attain a certain level of well being is poised to be a dominant societal theme. Nevertheless, when it comes to setting yearly personal goals focusing on health, quick fixes that don’t last, jeopardize our confidence and diminish self-efficacy.
Four factors play a key role in our continuous journey of setbacks:
- Demands and the complexities of everyday life have never been greater contributing to high levels of stress.
- An array of wellness guides, products and services make it challenging to create a personal formula.
- Navigating obstacles for making changes causes confusion, resistance and ambivalence.
- History of repeated failure may lead to the belief that mastering wellness is unattainable.
How Can Current Circumstances Change?
Despite these challenges, developing a personal blueprint for wellness and becoming confident in the ability to implement it is the first approach to modifying an existing lifestyle habit. For some, initiating an exercise regimen may require many motivating factors, especially if doing it alone. However, studies show that peer, family and/or professional support can be effective in increasing people’s adherence to exercise.
The latest research just released this month in the British Journal of Sports Medicine revealed that the risk of stroke, coronary heart disease, depression and other life-threatening conditions can be reduced through daily outdoor walking in groups.
The lead researcher, Sarah Hanson, stated that joining a walking group is one of the best and easiest ways to boost overall health with benefits being wide ranging, going above and beyond making people more physically active. People who joined walking groups registered statistically significant falls in average blood pressure, resting heart rate, body fat, weight and total cholesterol.
Walkers also experienced improvements in lung power, overall physical functioning, general fitness and were less depressed than before they started walking regularly. Even more importantly, taking regular walks became a catalyst for adopting other healthy behaviors.
Delving further into research, studies conducted on “walk breaks”during work hours found that walkers felt considerably more enthusiastic, less tense, more relaxed and had better coping skills compared to those who did not participate in the “walk breaks.” Strong evidence supports that feeling more productive and enthusiastic at work increases work productivity.
Has Technology Helped or Hindered Our Health Goals?
Health programs have embraced the view that 10,000 steps per day is the equivalent to a healthy, active lifestyle and is a means to achieve exercise recommendations and gain the associated health benefits. With advance technology, walking has become a sophisticated endeavor as millions of people are using fitness tracker devices to count their steps. The best fitness trackers on the market today are highly evolved, accurate and multi-functional. Paired with a companion Web account, mobile app, and maybe a few auxiliary devices, they give you better insight into the habits that make up your lifestyle, including sleep, calorie consumption, distance walked, heart rate, blood pressure, and more. The most important thing that fitness trackers aim to do is make people aware of how much or how little they’re moving which becomes a temporary motivational tool.
But do these extra features really rev up your motivation or produce better fitness results? Not necessarily, says Catrine Tudor-Locke, director of the Walking Behavior Laboratory at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge. “We find that a low-tech pedometer with a battery that lasts three years changes behavior just as much as any of these fancy devices that you have to charge more often and connect to download,”she says. With that said, has technology really helped us to achieve better health or has it given us a justification to bail out when it becomes too tedious to log in or be accountable to every minutiae of our day to day living?
A Starting Point: One Step At A Time
The value of walking is in the simplicity of being able to take this physical activity almost everywhere one goes either alone or with company. Therefore, for executives and small business owners, a “walking for wellness” initiative may be just the starting point needed.
Three suggestions at work:
- Time Allocation: Take an afternoon lunchtime walk with a co-worker
- Outdoor Conference: Conduct an outdoor walk/talk meeting with a colleague
- Support Your Staff: Allow for 15 minute walk breaks during the day.
No need for planning or scheduling. The only requirement is willingness and determination to focus on one’s steps as a form of exercise that will promote health and prevention of illness. Walking for wellness may also produce another added benefit: a higher level of creativity. Creativity strengthens morale which alters the way we respond to problems and sometimes allows us to transcend them. So what are you waiting for? Walk for wellness, inspire creativity (no gadgets needed) and keep in mind that it’s the simple things in life that bring the greatest joy and positive outcomes.
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