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Public Health Column for the Times-News

Keep your resolutions by moving more

Published: Wednesday, January 4, 2017

By KIM HORTON
Times-News Columnist

"I'm going to exercise every day this year." "I'm really going to lose weight this year." These statements are a few of the popular New Year resolutions heard especially this month. I've resolved to do both many times, and I bet you have, too.

Usually by mid-February, the resolve has dissolved, and life gets in the way of all good intentions. But stop and reconsider the importance and impact of following through and losing that weight.

In Henderson County, obesity was named as one of four health priorities in the 2015 Community Health Assessment. The report states that being overweight or obese is a major risk factor for many chronic diseases including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable death.

Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that more than one-third (36.5 percent) of U.S. adults are obese. The medical care costs are staggering with estimates as high as $147 billion per year. Obesity is common, serious and costly.

There are many contributing factors, but the assessment suggests that in our culture, the car has replaced walking and biking, video games have replaced outside activities and fast food has replaced healthy meals at home. We've witnessed a major lifestyle shift over the past 50 years for both adults and children.

To raise awareness about health behaviors that can help adults in North Carolina prevent and manage chronic diseases, the North Carolina Division of Public Health's Chronic Disease and Injury Section has created a Live Healthy to Be There campaign. The message is to take care of your health so you will be there for your family and for those big moments important to all — the birth of a grandchild, the graduation of your child, a wedding of a loved one or even a small but important activity such as a common family hike.

In addition to ads, the division has created a website called preventchronicdisease.com that makes it easy to learn about the five key health behaviors that can help jumpstart a resolution to lose weight. Behaviors include eating healthy, being physically active, quitting tobacco, getting health screenings and tracking health numbers. The website is easy to navigate and is available in English and Spanish.

Perhaps you need some encouragement to be more active. You'll find what you need later this month when the Department of Public Health sponsors Be Active Day from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 28, at the Blue Ridge Mall.

Beverly Levinson, health promotion coordinator at the Health Department, calls it an opportunity for people of all ages to explore many of the fun activity-oriented resources to move more in Henderson County.

"I stress that it really is for people of all ages," Levinson said. "Folks will be surprised at what is available locally that can keep them active and help to keep their weight at a healthy number. We will have many local agencies and businesses participating.

But most important is the fact that regular physical activity helps improve your overall health and fitness along with reducing your risk for many chronic diseases," she said. "Children can learn the life-long habit of being active, but it's never too late for someone much older to start a new habit.

Even with great resolve to move every day, sometimes life does get in the way. That's when you can use your smarts to outsmart your busy schedule to fit exercise into the activities of your life-whether heading to work, traveling or being homebound because of bad weather. Take advantage of the tips at MyEatSmartMoveMore.com:

  • When traveling, look up trails and parks along your route and plan in some time to walk. A great resource is americantrails.org.
  • Take some time to stretch your neck, back, hips and legs during these driving breaks
  • Sneak in some exercises when you stop to refill your gas tank
  • Do calf raises or march in place, bringing your knees up as high as they can go

If it's just another day at work or home:

  • Carry a basket while grocery shopping instead of pushing a cart
  • Do 20 squats while you brush your teeth every morning and night
  • Walk up and down your stairs while chatting on the phone
  • Do sit ups or wall sits during commercial breaks while watching television
  • If you don't have time to exercise before or after work, fit some physical activity into your work day with desk exercises.

Every bit of movement counts, and small bouts of exercise at a time do add up over the day. We hope to see you moving on Jan. 28 at Be Active Day.

Be Active Day is one of many programs the Health Department offers as part of its mission to promote, protect and advance the health and wellness of our community. Visit hendersoncountync.org/health to learn more. For more information about Be Active Day, contact Beverly Levinson at 828-694-6065 or blevinson@hendersoncountync.org.


Kim Horton is the communications manager at the Henderson County Department of Public Health. She can be reached at khorton@hendersoncountync.org.

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