The statistics are out, creating a scary reality for Oklahoma: Oklahomans are some of the most obese and inactive people in the United States.
According to Oklahoma’s official website, nearly 67 percent of adults in the state are either overweight or obese and 34 percent of youth are overweight or obese. Therefore, healthcare costs in Oklahoma are more than $854 million each year for obesity illnesses.
However, it’s not surprising, being that 42 Oklahoma counties were rated low in physical activity and exercise as well as consuming fruits and vegetables. According to the Center for Disease Control, Oklahoma is the 6th most obese state in the country, which means physical activity must not be high on most people’s priority lists.
Unfortunately the rising obesity rate probably won’t be dwindling down anytime soon. The reality is that Oklahoma has drastically cut educational budgets and physical education isn’t offered in most schools anymore. Without adults prioritizing physical activity, it’s likely Oklahoma youth won’t prioritize healthy choices either.
If this trend continues, Oklahoma will likely have a reputation, if not already, of having fat, sedentary people who drain state and national healthcare costs. Diabetes, heart disease and other obese-related illnesses will likely lead to even higher costs if there’s no motivation in the state to engage in cardiovascular, fat burning exercise.
It’s time for Oklahomans to be accountable for their health and to try to find ways to move. Everyone, whether they want to admit it, is responsible for their physical health and there’s no better way to get in shape than cardio exercise. According to Medicine Net, cardio has a plethora of physical benefits, and is the best weight loss tool. Getting your heart rate up and pumping blood and oxygen through the body is the most effective way to lose weight. In fact, running improves cardio ability by increasing hormone and enzyme activity, making your heart and lungs work more efficiently.
However, you don’t have to run to lose weight. Even though running burns more calories than most other forms of cardio exercise, speed walking and stair stepping are also good options. The key is to start out slow and work your way up to a comfortable, yet challenging pace. Whether you join a gym or choose to walk outside in the harsh Oklahoma wind, as long you push yourself and burn more calories than you eat, weight loss is possible.
Another great cardio benefit most people probably aren’t aware of is DNA improvement. According to an interview on National Public Radio with a scientist from a Stockholm university, 35 minutes of intense cardio can improve your body’s ability to burn fat and sugar by boosting the genes needed to support the metabolic process. The key to making this happen is to run or walk at a level that makes it hard to carry on a conversation. So, if you don’t think you can get on the elliptical at the gym without calling your best friend, don’t take your phone!
A major reason Oklahoman’s may decide not to exercise is because of asthma and allergy issues. Oklahoma is one of worst places to live among allergy sufferers, especially in the summer when the air quality drops to dangerous levels. However, asthma symptoms can decrease as the lungs are trained to work harder and adapt to your heart rate.
The reality is that cardio workouts and understanding the physical benefits could help the large amount of overweight Oklahomans accomplish their weight loss goals. If not, Oklahoma could eventually climb the ladder to be the leader in obesity. Together, Oklahomans can strive to be healthier despite education flaws.