We are now several days into the month of May, and you may have already noticed advertisements for National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. Every year, as Americans we spend the month of May rising to the Presidents challenge – by taking part in physical activities and sports on a regular basis. Obesity has been steadily increasing in America since the 1990s, as have the range of other problems which can stem from an unhealthy diet and lack of exercise. The National Physical Fitness and Sports Month has been designed to tackle this problem.
The annual program was developed by the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition, a group which was formed in 1955. The original group was designed to improve fitness in children, after a report suggested that European children were in better shape. Over the years the group’s work has extended to everyday health and nutrition for kids and grownups alike, and National Physical Fitness and Sports Month was made official in 1983.
Why is it important?
With longer working hours and the convenience of fast food, many of us are becoming dangerously unhealthy. Statistics say that 34.9% of Americans are obese, costing us a huge $190 billion in health care expenses every year. In fact, the average health bill was on average $1,429 higher for obese patients than for those who are healthier. This is a lot of extra money and a lot of strain on our bodies, all of which could be avoided by making a few simple lifestyle changes.
Unfortunately, poor diet and a lack of exercise open us up to all kinds of issues and problems – not just obesity. An unhealthy lifestyle can lead to type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart attacks and most of the other leading causes of preventable death. The risks are made even worse if you’re a smoker too. So the next time you drive-thru McDonalds or grab your car keys for a short trip into town, why not think about a healthier alternative?
What’s in it for me?
It’s common knowledge that sport and exercise will help to prevent these health issues, but there are actually a lot of benefits to leading a more active lifestyle. Despite the tiredness which we all suffer directly after a period of exercise, did you know that regular exercise will actually boost your natural energy levels? Aside from improved heart and lung functioning in everyday life, regular exercise helps to regulate our sleeping patterns and promote deep sleep – so you’ll wake up energized and ready to go.
As well as making us more energetic, physical exercise is also proven to improve our moods. When we work out our brain releases endorphins, hormones that make us feel relaxed and positive. You may have even heard of runner’s high, the everyday name for this feeling of euphoria which occurs after physical exercise of any kind.
You can always find time for physical activity whether it is 20 minutes of yoga on a yoga mat before work, walking on your lunch break using a pedometer to track your steps, or working out from home with resistance bands during a commercial break. Even if you can squeeze in a few two minutes sets of jumping rope throughout the day, you will increase your cardiovascular health. Don’t forget a fitness towel to help you cool off and protect you from bacteria at the gym.
Will you be taking part in National Physical Fitness and Sports Month 2014? How could you become healthier or more active this year?