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Transcript of FITNESS
A wise man named Plato
once said, "lack of activity
destroys the good condition
of every human being, while
movement and methodical
physical exercise save it and
So what are we doing to save and preserve the good condition of ourselves?
How can we create an effective way to prevent the lack of activity and spread awareness about achieving and maintaining the "good condition" both physically and mentally?
What are we doing to save and preserve the good condition of ourselves?
And how can it relate to daily life?
The importance of health and fitness was recognized far before the ancient Greeks. Nonetheless, with the image of the "good condition" mind, people who had great aesthetics were embraced and seen as divine.
Hence, the marvelous statues and artwork from that time period.
The answers to these questions lies in our hands
Fitness is a topic that should be seen as a tool or aid that is available to everybody and to better oneself in any way he/she seems fit.
"Significant health benefits can be obtained by including a moderate amount of physical activity (e.g., 30 minutes of brisk walking ... [or] 15 minutes of running ... on most, if not, all, days of the week" (T. J Housh, D. J Housh, DeVries 4).
"Since many of us in this mechanized and industrialized civilization meet very few physical challenges, low levels of functional capacity (fitness) were acceptable. Applying the concept of 'pursuit of excellence' to optimizing physical fitness awaited the knowledge boom of the past few decades[, which lead to scientific evidence stating] ...Optimal levels physical activity and fitness are conducive to lifelong good health" (T. J Housh, D. J Housh, DeVries 3).
Still not convinced about the what the big deal is about this whole fitness thing? What if I said:
Physical activity reduces the risk of premature morality in general and coronary heart disease, hypertension, colon cancer, and diabetes mellitus in particular
Physical activity also improves mental health and is important for the health of muscles, bones, and joints
More than 60 percent of American adults are not regularly physically active. In fact, 25 percent of all adults are not active at all
Nearly half of American youth 12-21 years of age are not vigorously active on a regular basis. Moreover, physical activity declines dramatically during adolescence
(T. J Housh, D. J Housh, DeVries 4).
So what can we do to get people, both old and young, physically active?
Exercise right? Well if it were that easy everyone would be doing it.
Prior to creating change there has to be awareness; there are countless benefits that are constantly being revealed by science but until people realize the potential of being healthier, it is likely that obesity and chronic health problems will continue to increase in the future. There is more to good health than simply diet and exercise alone. Many other factors must be taken into consideration, such as; environmental health and public health.
What local organizations offer opportunities where people can learn about health and fitness awareness while building a healthier environment?
The YMCA has always been an integral part of the community and provides multiple initiatives that focus on,
"local communities ... [working] together to give all community members healthy choices and support the pursuit of healthy lifestyles. More than 160 Ys are working in collaboration with community leaders to make changes in policies and the physical surroundings in those communities so that healthy living is within reach for individuals of all ages and backgrounds" (YMCA)
The Swoley Ghost
Also, through the various initiatives and partners, the Y provides different approaches according to the needs of the community.
The Y's Healthier Communities Initiatives include:
Pioneering Healthier Communities (PHC)
Statewide Pioneering Healthier Communities (Statewide PHC)
Action Communities for Health, Innovation and EnVironmental changeE (ACHIEVE)
Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH)
(Paterson, Chris, and Hank Herrera. HEALTHIER COMMUNITIES IN URBAN AMERICA. N.p.: n.p., n.d. PDF.)
Each of the programs mentioned epitomize community-based research and community-participatory research by,
"[empowering] communities to create lasting change in support of healthy living.These initiatives focus on collaboration with community leaders working to develop and implement policies and make environmental changes that improve health and well-being... Sustainable, local efforts like these are necessary to address the three main risk factors for obesity and chronic disease: physical inactivity, unhealthy eating, and tobacco use and exposure" (Paterson, Chris, and Hank Herrera).
This is research by the community, for the community.
"More than one-third of U.S. adults are obese, and the percentage of young people who are overweight has tripled over the last 25 years"
(Paterson, Chris, and Hank Herrera).
There is clearly a need to provide action towards changing policies for healthier environments and behavior. It starts with gaining knowledge and making the decision to change. Life is full of choices so why not choose to live healthy?
With that in mind, I propose to work along with community leaders involved with ACHIEVE of the Healthier Communities Initiatives from a local YMCA within Tacoma-Pierce County so that I can further research and explore the benefits of living healthy.
With the help of community leaders I can learn how to,
"develop community-level policy, systems, and environmental-change strategies;
raise awareness and strengthen the framework for movements that aim to reverse trends in
physical inactivity, poor nutrition, and obesity and other chronic conditions;
strengthen community capacity to initiate and sustain promising practices for
use mechanisms and strategies to translate Healthier Communities‘ principles into practice;
identify cost-effective, practical solutions and tools that teams can use to educate, mobilize,
and sustain communities in supporting healthy living; and
support community, state, and national entities in implementing policy, systems, and
environmental-change strategies that increase opportunities for physical activity and
healthy eating" (Paterson, Chris, and Hank Herrera) .
Since about 2008, ACHIEVE has influenced their support in many local departments from health departments to parks and recreation departments. The main reason why I was drawn to this initiative is because it is community based, targeting similar issues that I am concerned with and more.
"ACHIEVE communities form leadership teams that work together to plan and implement policy, systems, and environmental change strategies that encourage good health and afford opportunities for community residents to become healthier. ACHIEVE focuses on the health risk factors of physical inactivity and poor nutrition, as does PHC,
but broadens the effort to address tobacco use and exposure and strategies for preventing or managing the risk factors for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, obesity, and arthritis" (Paterson, Chris, and Hank Herrera).
Although YMCA communities in the United states has, "[as] of July 2010, 164 community leadership teams ... engaged in the YMCA‘s Healthier Communities Initiatives ... [including] 102 teams in PHC, 30 in ACHIEVE, and 32 in Statewide PHC", there are still a multitude of communities who do not have access or even knowledge about such programs. In Washington state alone, their are only six YMCA locations that offer these initiatives. There are even less or none at all in other states. By advocating for health and fitness, I hope to see more awareness and learning opportunities that go beyond the YMCA. (Paterson, Chris, and Hank Herrera).
In Henry Biller's book called,
the concept of 'being a better you' is explained and gives a playful perspective on exercise with a psychological aspect.
"Fitness and mental vitality go together. Exercise endeavors can enhance learning and problem solving as well as emotional well-being. As individuals progress through adulthood, interconnections among their intellectual abilities and overall physical condition become increasingly apparent. Improving your fitness not only strengthens your muscles but helps your brain better coordinate bodily movements." (Biller 33).
There have been a few studies that have linked mental vitality to exercise.
"Psychologist Robert Dustman and his colleagues at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salt Lake City involved sedentary men and women, ages 50 to 70, in a 16– week walking and jogging program. The researchers then compared before and after scores of the participants ... On average, the participants improved 27% in aerobic endurance and 9% in intellectual performance. Another group, engaging in a 4-month weight and flexibility training program, had increases of 9% in muscular endurance and 4% in intellectual functioning (Biller 33).
"Thus far, communities involved in Healthier Communities Initiatives have enhanced walkability
and pedestrian safety, improved access to fresh fruits and vegetables, strengthened physical
education requirements in schools, and developed workplace wellness efforts" (Paterson, Chris, and Hank Herrera).
Along with working with ACHIEVE, I would like to research the psychological benefits of exercise and how they correlate with intellectual function. I am planning on creating experiments, gathering data, and further in depth research to obtain evidence of such possible benefits. In addition, I believe it will be of value to interview YMCA members and possibly do a survey.
Exercise not only changes lives but is a lifestyle. Change does not come overnight but overtime. We can strengthen our bodies and minds as individuals. Or we can work together and strengthen each other to build a strong community, a strong nation, and a strong world.
The choice is in our hands.
Biller, Henry B. "Creative Fitness : Applying Health Psychology and Exercise Science to
Everyday Life." (eBook, 2002) [WorldCat.org]. Greenwood Press, May 2002. Web. 11 Mar. 2014.
Housh, Terry J., Dona J. Housh, and Herbert A. DeVries. Applied Exercise and Sport Physiology.
Scottsdale, AZ: Holcomb Hathaway, 2003. Print.
Paterson, Chris, and Hank Herrera. HEALTHIER COMMUNITIES IN URBAN AMERICA. N.p.:
n.p., n.d. PDF.
"Strengthen Communities." The Y: Healthier Communities Initiative. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Mar