I recently saw a TV ad stating the obvious: “Know Your Numbers,” which advised us to know our cholesterol, blood pressure, glucose, BMI, etc. Many healthcare providers are sending this same message directly to the people they currently insure in order to save money.
In spite of this seemingly sound advice, the fact remains that general health trends among college students have been in decline for 30 years. Two college-university clients have published longitudinal studies to back this statement up. No surprises here, because the overall health of Americans has also been declining. This poses a serious threat to our economic security and way of life. The good news is that we can still do something about it.
However, knowing these specific numbers doesn’t really address the problem. This is the way our medical model has worked for years and it has failed miserably. Knowing their numbers has really become more about disease management and selling more prescription drugs, and less about prevention. You see, if there were more qualified personal trainers, effective community-based wellness programs, and physical education reinstated in our schools on the front lines, we would rarely need to be talking about their numbers at all, because prevention is the answer, and you can be part of the solution. Even our medical communities are beginning to consider the “Exercise is Medicine” theme espoused by the A.C.S.M, Medical Fitness Association, and others.
So what is the solution? Let’s talk about the right numbers in relationship to a fit and healthy lifestyle. Let’s talk about blood pressure in the context of how exercise and proper nutrition helps to control weight and normalize blood pressure. Let’s explain how accurate estimates of body composition are much more reliable than a generalized BMI measurement, which has been marginally useful and often very misleading. Let’s talk about VO2 and aerobic capacity for endurance, fat loss and healthy metabolic rates. Let’s talk more about strength and flexibility training to build metabolically active muscle tissue, to improve performance in our daily activities and to prevent exercise related injuries.
In summary, I could not go into depth on the key points raised in this brief article, however, the fact you read this far is a tribute to your curiosity and desire to learn more about the subject and I encourage you to do so.
Rob Rideout is vice president and cofounder of MicroFit, Inc. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit microfit.com.