By Fia Curley
Remember us? Yeah, you do. We are those that were very resolved to do all kinds of things last year. Well, we didn't do that bad, actually.
Let's run a quick report: Dr. Jose Carneiro, Director of the Office of Minority Health Resource Center (OMHRC), upped his intake of water and cut down on coffee…a little, plus an occasional sweet here and there.
Fast food intake in the office has receded some (yeah, they just got better at hiding it) and the young woman who joined a fitness franchise is looking really good. If she keeps it up for another year, top models watch out! (Not much progress on the driving front, though.)
The receptionist did not quit smoking, but quit her job. So we won't count this as a defeat.
See? In general, we all adhere to the wisdom of the ages: 'A journey of a hundred miles starts with one small step.'
Now it's your turn to report back to us: How did you do?
This year, try again to reduce the number of resolutions you make, and increase what you do to bring them to fruition. We really need to see some action in many areas!
Let's take one, oh so common, resolution, and come up with some inspiration here: I resolve to move my…body!
The need to be fit
"American Indians and Alaska Natives were 2.6 times more likely to have diagnosed diabetes compared with non-Hispanic Whites, African Americans were 2.0 times more likely, and Hispanics were 1.9 times more likely," the study noted.
They found that 50 percent of adults don't get enough physical activity to provide health benefits and 25 percent aren't active in their leisure time. And despite gym being part of students' curriculum, the CDC found that "more than a third of young people in grades 9-12 do not regularly engage in vigorous-intensity physical activity. Daily participation in high school physical education classes dropped from 42% in 1991 to 32% in 2001."
The CDC recommends participating regularly in activities that require moderate levels of energy, which range from dancing and doing yoga to competitive table tennis and brisk walking.
Regular physical activity can help decrease risk of colon cancer, stroke, diabetes and high blood pressure and prevent the risk of dying of coronary disease-the nation's leading cause of death. It also promotes healthy bones, muscles and joints and controls weight.
Habits are stubborn
Although people may want to change their habits for the better, it may take at least 90 days and a friend to solidify positive habits according to Dr. Alan Marlatt, director of the addictive behavior and research center at the University of Washington in Seattle.
"People that make them are interested in changing their habits," he said. "They want to use the opportunity of New Year's Day for starting anew."
However, with research Marlatt has proven that most people are more likely to be successful when they tell someone about the resolutions they have made, noting "your friend is less likely to offer you a cigarette if you tell him you've quit smoking."
"Habit changes are the most popular resolutions," Marlatt said, "but people who make resolutions to stop something don't do as well as people who start something. People who are the most successful combine things like quitting smoking and starting something like an exercise program."
But instead of promoting resolutions, Lee Grandison, Health and Fitness director at the YMCA in Hampton, Va., takes a different approach.
"We don't advocate resolutions," Grandison said, "We advocate lifestyle changes. We look at what are the factors behind the change. We look for ownership of those choices."
Grandison said she starts by finding out what brought about the new desire to change, whether it was a recent medical diagnosis or unhappiness with size and appearance.
"So it isn't, 'oh it's a New-Year's thing,' it's 'how do I become a healthier person' and health isn't defined by size or weight," she said. "It's defined by having the energy to do everyday activities, being able to react in emergencies and still having enough energy for fun at the end of the day."
Not just image matters
As a self-professed "big girl," she has been in the business of wellness on the professional level for 15 years for Bally, NAVY MWR and YMCA USA. Grandison has sought the benefits of health and fitness since her childhood, participating in martial arts and later shot put and discuss in high school and college.
"My doctor told me at age 13 I needed to make a choice," she said. "That was young, but I thank him to this very day, because it saved me from a society that prides itself on thinness. And he told me that would never be me; because it wasn't something my body could do without harming itself."
So when people come to enroll in activities, Grandison said they are educated about body composition so they will know how their body could react. Then the YMCA "spirit, mind and body model is implemented to initiate changes on all levels."
"Muscle weighs more than fat and that's something minorities need to know," she said. "We build muscle very fast-especially African-Americans and Hispanics-so you may not see numbers dropping on the scale, but we see the inches, the rise in energy levels and the fit of clothes. The results are different."
Enrollees are then placed in communities based on their interests. If a person enjoys walking on treadmills, they're placed in the YMCA's walking club, where they are given a partner for camaraderie and accountability because people who take part in two months of activity are more likely to be life-long members.
"It's all about forming bonds that address more than one issue," she said, adding that class participants also schedule social activities outside of YMCA facilities.
And due to the wide age range and physical status of YMCA members, activities run the gamut.
Senior citizens have Silver Sneakers. For children ages 5 to 12, there's the youth obesity initiative IGNITE, Integrative Games Nutrition and Inspiration through Education.
"We have a captive audience," Grandison joked, referring to the before and after-school care programs that incorporate time for snack, homework and emphasis on "the physical activity [students] no longer get through the school system."
Students are divided into two groups, one for 5 to 9-year-olds and one for 10 to 12-year olds. Each group learns about body structure, nutrition and cooking. To track progress, they record participants' body mass index at the beginning and end of each school year. Grandison said she is hoping to put added emphasis on the tween population because it's been targeted as a key age for getting people started on healthy practices.
"It's not about weight training. It's not about getting on a treadmill. Instead, you do fun things to keep them running around and busy." She said. "You have to be active and the rest will follow."
Fia Curley is a writer for the OMHRC. Comments? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Healthy Lifestyle Tips
USA.gov New Year's Resolutions
CDC Physical Activity
CDC Physical Activity by State
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