This article has been graciously contributed by author and nutrition expert Lily Hastings.
Obesity is the biggest underlying health problem in the world today and over one third of adult Americans are classified as obese. This is a shocking statistic which represents a time bomb for health services and insurance companies who are struggling to deal with the surge in illnesses that are ultimately triggered by obesity. Many obese individuals are now struggling to obtain adequate health insurance and premiums for those that do have cover are increasing rapidly as the insurance industry seeks to recover losses incurred following the explosion in obesity related claims.
Poor lifestyle choices do not just affect insurance and health services. It is likely that those with generally poor health will be low in energy in a work environment and this in turn reduces productivity. Although many people are affected by a number of cruel conditions there is a growing group of individuals that have drifted into obesity over a period of many years and this change has been underpinned by a series of poor lifestyle choices. Poor diet is one major contributory factor as is a lack of exercise. These are two areas in which much work has been done to educate individuals or groups and the concept of wellness is being talked about as a possible solution to the problem.
What is wellness?
Charles B. Corbin of Arizona State University has defined wellness as, “a multidimensional state of being describing the existence of positive health in an individual as exemplified by quality of life and a sense of well-being.” It can also be described as that inner glow that exists when an individual has a spring in the step and is at ease with the world. Exercise releases endorphins which are the feel good chemicals in the body. When they are activated they improve the mood of an individual. Exercise also boosts levels of other mood enhancing chemicals adrenaline, serotonin and dopamine. Exercise also serves to reduce blood pressure and the risk of heart disease and diabetes, all of which can place a great strain on the body. By making positive choices individuals can boost levels of wellness, healthy eating provides the right balance of nutrients for the body and not only prevents obesity but can contribute to a positive state of mind too. Exercise is critical but it is not always necessary to join a gym and launch into a strict exercise regime. For most people exercise is all about raising heart rates beyond their natural resting levels so that some positive stress is placed on the body. This uses up energy that may be surplus to requirements but also provides a mental stimulus that gives an overall boost to an individual. Therefore it may be sufficient for an individual not used to exercise to walk or cycle when driving may be the default mode of transport to complete an errand. As long as the heart rate is raised for at least three, twenty minute periods each week then a benefit will be gained. In addition to healthy eating it may be beneficial to use supplements such as d aspartic acid which promote strength and muscle growth resulting in longer training periods and greater levels of fitness. Supplements allow those with busy lifestyles to make changes to their lives without compromising existing commitments and responsibilities. A small change is often all that is required to make a big impact.
Are there other benefits?
Obesity has been linked with reduced job or career prospects, especially in women. Wellness will inevitably lead to higher levels of confidence and self esteem which will in turn improve workplace prospects. If feeling great is not enough to foster a culture of change then wellness can also bring financial benefits. Health checks are increasingly used by insurance companies to assess individuals who are seeking cover for healthcare and other health related insurance products. Those with poor health scores will either not be accepted for insurance purposes or will incur higher premiums as a result. An improving health situation will lead to lower premiums if cover is renegotiated. Financial benefits also improve wellness as money is recognised as a key factor in determining the state of mind of an individual.
An upward curve
Wellness can be considered to be a cycle of improvement and if positive efforts are made in one area of life this will lead to a breakthrough in another area. Consider an obese individual who does not feel attractive to the opposite sex and is struggling in a job that holds no real interest. Aside from the health benefits a change in eating habits will bring, the additional self confidence may be enough to spark a relationship and the resulting upturn in wellness due to that change in life could also offer a whole new perspective on life and lead to a new period of education so that a new career could be pursued. This may sound farfetched but there are thousands of people who have taken the bold step of trying something new in their lives and made a positive change which has had a permanent impact on life. If more people took the challenge to improve wellness there would be a reduced impact on services, insurance premiums could come down and the world would be filled with happier, more creative and productive people who are content with their lives.