Saturday, December 29, 2012

West Virginia Ranked 47th In Terms Of Health

Just a few days ago I noticed a post from a friend lamenting this recent finding from the United Health Foundation. According to the results of this research, we are among the most the least healthy people in our country. We dropped from 43 to 47 in the last year. We are ranked among the worst states in the country for diabetes and obesity in particular.

It’s kind of hard to turn around a stat like this, but it is totally possible.  I believe one of the biggest deterrents to improving health is that there are no shortcuts. I know of many people who look for some type of quick fix that will cure whatever ails us, but historically, I believe we turn things around by the slow process of cultivating good habits and letting go of bad habits.

As I think about my own health and level of fitness (improving, but not where I would like it to be), I have had a realization that change takes time and effort, and that’s why it is so hard. Two years ago, I went to a place called Dynamic Physical Therapy in Morgantown, and worked with a guy named Phil Cooke to improve my posture and reduce pain in my neck and shoulder. As I talked with Phil, I realized the reason my posture was so bad was because I had practiced poor posture for most of my life, and so I began efforts to strengthen muscles that I had allowed to atrophy over years and years.

For our state to improve its health, individuals need to get serious about improving our health. In my estimation, that means making some different dietary and recreational choices. It means getting outside and breathing the air and enjoying sunshine. It means playing outside and watching less TV. It means choosing to take incremental steps toward better health.

As the new year approaches, perhaps we can all set some incremental goals to achieve a healthier lifestyle. Maybe it will be eating sugary snacks a little less often, or maybe it will mean getting outside and walking for 20 minutes three times a week.

Let’s turn this statistic around! Who knows? Maybe your initiative will inspire others around you to make similar choices toward a healthier lifestyle. At the top of this post, I included a photo of my wife, my sister, and my brother-in-law. They trained t run a half marathon in Parkersburg back in 2011. Three years ago, my sister was not a runner. Now she is placing in virtually every race. Jamie, Becky, and Ray each started out slow and are now able to run for a long time and distance. I would love for West Virginia to climb into the top 40 in 2013. Let's do this!

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