Don't be a Growing Statistic!

Over the past 20 years there has been a dramatic increase in overweight and obesity among the U.S. population. Sixty-five percent of adults are currently overweight-a 40 percent increase. Obesity has increased 100 percent to nearly 59 million adults. Moreover, the epidemic is not limited to adults: the percentage of young people who are overweight has more than doubled in the last 20 years. Of children and adolescents aged 6-19 years, 15% - about 9 million young people - are considered overweight.

Physical inactivity and unhealthy eating contribute to obesity, cancer, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, and diabetes. Together, these two behaviors are responsible for over $100 billion in health care costs and at least 400,000 deaths each year. Only tobacco use causes more preventable deaths in the United States.

Despite the proven benefits of physical activity, more than 50% of American adults do not get enough physical activity to provide health benefits and 26% are not active at all in their leisure time. More than a third of young people in grades 9-12 do not regularly engage in vigorous physical activity. Daily participation in high school physical education classes dropped from 42% in 1991 to 32% in 2001.

Promoting regular physical activity and healthy eating is essential to reducing the epidemic of obesity. Additionally, workers who are physically fit sustain fewer injuries on and off the jobsite. Regular physical activity reduces risks for heart attack, colon cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, and stroke. It also helps to control weight; contributes to healthy bones, muscles, and joints; reduces falls among older adults; helps to relieve the pain of arthritis; reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression; and is associated with fewer hospitalizations, physician visits, and medications.

Physical activity need not be strenuous to be beneficial; people of all ages benefit from moderate physical activity, such as 30 minutes of brisk walking five or more times a week. Start every workout with a warmup to make your muscles and joints more flexible. Pay attention to your body and be sure to stop exercising if you feel very out of breath, dizzy, faint or nauseated, or have pain. Have fun and enjoy yourself. Remember, increased physical activity and flexibility will put you in prime shape for avoiding musculoskeletal injuries many people sustain during springtime on and off the job.