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Published on September 3rd, 2015 | by Guest Contributor

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Why Exercise is the Solution to Obesity

It’s no secret that our obesity epidemic is of epic proportions here in the United States. Due to a confluence of factors, obesity and related lifestyle diseases affect nearly half of our population, and the numbers continue to rise.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one-third of American adults (34.9 percent, or 78.6 million) are obese. The CDC also reports that approximately 17 percent, or 12.7 million, children and adolescents aged 2 to 19 years old are classified as obese. In fact, obesity rates doubled in America among both adults and children between 1980 and 2000 alone. This is not only dangerous for our bodies, but also our budget: the estimated annual medical cost of complications related to obesity in the United States was $147 billion in 2008, and the medical costs of obese individuals were almost $1,500 higher than those of normal weight.

economics of obesity

How Did we get Here?

As a partial explanation, it seems that we are genetically determined to become obese. As reported on Eat Drink Better, “A new study looked at how genetics can predispose us not just to gain weight but to gain in ways that are most harmful to our health [and] the study found that genetics can make people predisposed to obesity, identifying almost 100 parts of the genome that can make us more likely to gain weight and to gain belly fat specifically. This was the largest genome-wide study ever done.”

But while we we may predisposed to be obese, it doesn’t mean that we can’t work with our genes to find a healthy balance of life. We are perhaps designed to put on weight to help us survive famines, but our current diet makes our situation terrible. Most of the food we eat is too high in sugar, fats, and yet devoid of nutrients, making us fat, sick and nearly dead. Choosing a plant-based diet full of high-fiber plant-based foods can help decrease your risk. Other studies show that bad habits like skipping meals can lead to childhood obesity, so building good  habits for kids is helpful too.

Michelle Obama and Tom Vilsack, the USDA secretary, introduced the Prevention and Public Health Fund in 2011, a part of the Affordable Care Act that was established to provide more investment in public health. An intended budget of $73 million will be dedicated to diabetes prevention at the state and local level, supporting the National Diabetes Prevention Program. It also plans to dedicate $35 million to “nutrition, physical activity and obesity base activities,” including intervention development, evaluation, policy change, social marketing and more. Money like this is helpful to spread awareness, but there is so much more to it!

But it seems that exercise is a huge factor, too. Most of us don’t get enough exercise in our daily life, making the situation even worse. And public awareness and knowledge about exercise is of key importance.

Why Exercise is the key Solution to Obesity

While public awareness of how food relates to obesity is important, some would argue that it’s more important to focus on improving exercise habits. According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), regular exercise reduces risk of obesity and assists in weight loss in these ways:

  • Exercise is proven to both prevent and manage high blood pressure.
  • It raises high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, or “good” cholesterol while lowering low-density lipoprotein (LDL) — “bad” cholesterol.
  • Regular physical activity also decreases the amount of dangerous plaques in the artery walls, allowing for proper blood flow.

What’s an ideal exercise program? The ACSM suggests low-intensity aerobic activity four or five days a week for about 30 to 60 minutes. Weight and resistance training is also recommended, especially for women who lose bone mass as they age.

Exercise Science is the Key to the Best Exercise Program

However, if you are already obese and looking for solutions, it’s always recommended to connect with your doctor or health care practitioner before starting. It is the responsibility of exercise science professionals to work with your body’s limits and ensure that your exercise program does not cause any pain or complications. Trained exercise science professionals can adjust exercise modes and intensity to fit the unique needs of each patient.

Exercise science is a relatively new field, but one that is poised to become a key solution for the current health crisis. According to the National Library of Medicine, exercise science is the scientific study of human movement. Exercise science seeks “applied solutions to health problems related to physical inactivity and aims to understand and promote individual and public health and wellbeing through evidence-based physical activity interventions,” and it can include several subfields like Biomechanics, Exercise physiology, Exercise psychology, Cardiac rehabilitation, Athletic training, and fitness for special population groups.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 19 percent growth for the exercise science field through the year 2022, a rate that is faster than the national average, putting exercise scientists on the frontline of the battle against obesity in America. Finding work in this field is easy with online exercise science degrees at both the *undergraduate and graduate levels from Concordia University.

Exercise scientists will learn key issues in for exercise like Aging, Athletic training, Biomechanics, Chiropractic, Exercise physiology, Human growth, Sports management and more. This comprehensive background of study prepares students for a wide variety of health-related, exercise-focused careers.

This post was sponsored by Concordia University. Image from Shutterstock





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