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Inactivity, Sedentary Lifestyles and Overeating...

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Mike AlpertMike Alpert

Inactivity, sedentary lifestyles and overeating, which are major causes of chronic illness, pose a very challenging and scary future for our country. I was recently at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida and could not help but notice the huge number of adults and children who were overweight or obese. It was truly shocking. At the hotel pool, and at the parks, over two-thirds of the people I saw fit into this category. Whether we were eating breakfast, lunch or dinner, seeing the amount and types of food that was being consumed literally turned my stomach.

My thoughts were also about the Disney Corporation and how their focus seemed all twisted. Here is an opportunity for a highly respected organization to promote healthy habits and set an example for children who are fueling their bodies with nothing short of junk food and sugar in huge quantities. The message it sends to me is that their opinion of what kids crave leads to maximum profits. How wrong that seems to be. Instead of offering healthy foods in the proper quantities, they super size them with sugar, sodium, soft drinks and junk foods. But, this should come as no surprise to anyone. Go to a sporting event, and you will see the same thing.

At our club, we have started programs for children that educate them on the importance of proper nutrition. We recently started an urban garden with ten pods that grow organic, whole fruits and vegetables. The intent is to teach them how to plant, grow, harvest and eat healthy foods. Then, we allow them to take the food home and get the sense of what it is like to help feed their family. It is also a great way to build self-esteem and self-worth for these kids.

I believe that, in our clubs, we need to put much more emphasis on nutrition and healthy eating habits than we currently do. Many times, in our own club, the feedback I get from staff is that the members who work out believe that they are exercising and doing things correctly and don't really need help with their nutrition. But, I see the same people everyday, week after week and year after year, and their body images never seem to change. I watch as they push themselves in the Cardio Room and Group Exercise Studio, working out at extreme levels and perspiring profusely. I don't see these same people in the Weight Room, and very few of them seek out the services of our Registered Dietician.

If I were able to line them up and ask two simple questions: (1) Did you eat a healthy meal prior to your workout and (2) Do you believe that the harder you work out and the more you sweat, the better the workout? I believe I would get the same answers from everyone. Those answers would most likely be: (1) I did not eat prior to my workout, especially if I am working out early in the morning or right after work, and (2) Yes, I feel that I am getting a much better workout the harder I work out and the more I sweat. Both answers are wrong.

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