As the enormous debate over the administration’s healthcare bill heated up over the summer in Washington, DC, we thought it would be timely to synthesize some of the main challenges we face as a nation regarding health and wellness. Mostly, we wanted to focus on the solutions—namely, the roles that fitness and wellness professionals will have in any blueprint that ultimately gets drafted. What resulted is an excellent overview article regarding the wellness culture, prevention strategies, the philosophy of self-responsibility and the profound opportunities this gives our industry. I invite you—no, I urge you—to read the feature story “The Wellness Culture: Self-Responsibility at Last,” by Alexandra Williams, MA, starting on page 28.
Even after 27 years of IDEA members and like-minded professionals across the country evangelizing prevention, the nation is more obese, more overweight and sicker than ever. While it appears that as a nation we are finally progressing from a sick-care strategy toward investment in prevention and wellness programs to help Americans live longer and healthier lives, most people—including healthcare providers and insurance companies—are just catching up to what you as a professional have known and taught your clients for years: a balance of good diet, regular exercise and clean living point toward longevity and improved quality of life.
A simple, holistic personal-care strategy also points to almost unfathomable savings on the nation’s spiraling medical tab. We’re talking about the type of savings that could help us climb faster out of the black hole of deficit.
But here is the harsh reality, as reported by Williams: “Obesity is associated with a 36% increase in healthcare spending (more than smoking or problem drinking). Private U.S. companies report that obesity costs them an estimated $45 billion annually in medical expenditures and work loss. Metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that occur together, increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes, is increasingly prevalent throughout the world.”
Considering the consequences of these concerns, isn’t it time to recognize fitness professionals as the authorities, catalysts and leaders who will move the cultural understanding of “health” toward self-responsibility and prevention? We believe that no one can lead this country along the path of wellness better than IDEA members.
“Even though the statistics regarding fitness levels and health are extremely discouraging, there is still much to be hopeful and enthusiastic about, especially with the level of attention now being paid to preventive care by our president and government,” Williams points out. But even though policymakers and others are more willing than ever to change the way they look at health and health care, quite a few challenges exist that must be acknowledged and dealt with. “As with any difficult issue, these are simply challenges awaiting solutions. In order to create solutions, you need to know what it is you’re solving,” she writes.
Through this piece, we have made a strong effort to define the problems; but it’s really more about opening new vistas and revisiting the solutions and strategies that you and your colleagues have witnessed as viable over the past 2 1/2 decades. Clearly, the article can’t provide all the answers. What it does offer is optimism and some excellent suggestions on how we can all keep fighting the good, worthy fight.
For all you do to Inspire the World to Fitness®, IDEA salutes you!
Follow me on twitter @fitnesseditor.
SANDY TODD WEBSTER
EDITOR IN CHIEF