Lifestyle behaviors that can impact your future

Margaret Brackett - Contributing Columnist

Battling of the Bulge 2017 is the highlight of the Newberry Memorial Hospital Wellness Center this month. Winners will be announced from four different age ranges at a celebration April 1. Prizes will include a six-month gym membership and a Visa prepaid gift card.

The program provides access to Wellness Center physical activity screening and assessment; with guided exercise prescription and on-going, one-on-one small group training led and programmed by exercise physiologist Ben Pratt, a Certified Personal Trainer who has agreed to discuss the health advantages for members who are participating.

Obesity is a problem. It’s that simple, yet very complex. It’s the weight on your joints as well as your heart. It’s the result of a combination of contributing things, such as genetics and behavior. We all know most of the classic behaviors that lead to obesity such as bad eating habits, lack of physical activity, and the use of certain medications but there are more.

Obesity is a health condition that is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease which is the leading cause of death in the United States and South Carolina. This condition also increases the chances of developing other risk factors that lead to cardiovascular disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

The more risk factors you have, the higher your chances are of having cardiovascular disease and being effected by its complications. (heart attack, stroke, death.) Not to scare you, but to inform you of how serious this problem is.

To keep it simple, these are just a few things that happen with obesity and other chronic conditions:

• High blood pressure: With excess weight, especially around the waist, the blood has to pump harder to get oxygenated blood to vital organs and other parts of the body. The increased work on the heart makes the pressure on your artery walls go up, which raises blood pressure.

• High cholesterol: Eating foods high in saturated fats and cholesterol and lacking the right amount of physical activity and exercise can cause your weight and cholesterol to go up. High cholesterol is also linked to high blood pressure and diabetes.

• Diabetes: Diabetes occurs when low amounts of insulin are produced and the individual becomes insulin resistant. Meaning the body produces insulin but doesn’t use it effectively. Obesity raises the risk of becoming insulin resistant.

This relates to cholesterol because insulin resistance leads to fat building up in the bloodstream which causes plaque buildup. Plaque buildup causes high blood pressure.

Not all obese people have these conditions but being obese does raise the risks of developing them. So by fighting against obesity, you’re fighting against the other risk factors of cardiovascular disease. You fight them practicing healthy lifestyle behaviors daily.

This is how it works:

1. Eat balanced meals: Educate yourself on what this means and what foods are healthy for you. This doesn’t mean you can’t have certain foods, it means you’ll eat them in a smarter way. We have to be mindful of portion sizes and the types of food we eat. You have to eat to live, not live to eat. So, make choices that will benefit your health before benefiting your tastes.

2. Get at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily. Physical activity is any body movement that uses energy. Slowly walking around the office or up and down the halls at work, gardening, sweeping, cleaning the car, raking the leaves, stretching, and dancing are a short list of ideas. Do things that will help you remain active because it adds longevity to your life.

3. Exercise at least 40 minutes, three to four days every week. This is different than physical activity because it’s structured and repetitive movement. Do a combination of cardiovascular and strength training each day you exercise focusing on major muscle groups (ex. leg, back, chest, arms). Exercise helps build muscle and strengthen the entire body. It benefits the body similarly to physical activity but at a higher level.

Doing these activities help the body function more like it is designed to, reducing your need for medications and reducing risks of cardiovascular disease, stroke, or death. Our bodies were made to move and eat foods that were from the Earth, in the wild, or farm-raised. Processed foods of today and a laid back lifestyle have hurt us over time. We have to be more active and smarter with our food choices if we want to live and be healthy.

No one says you have to be skinny or train like an Olympic athlete, but I do suggest that you practice healthy lifestyle behaviors.

Margaret Brackett

Contributing Columnist

Margaret Brackett is from Newberry. Her columns appear weekly in The Newberry Observer.

Margaret Brackett is from Newberry. Her columns appear weekly in The Newberry Observer.

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