By Scot Baddley, president and CEO, YMCA of Greenville
My family and I have always been grateful for the gift of health. But the past year has made us cherish our health as a gift like we never have before.
What encourages me during the uncertain times we’re in is understanding the invaluable benefits of a healthy lifestyle. We can take proactive measures to defend our bodies from sickness like COVID-19 and other viruses. A recent study by the Henry Ford Health System shows that physically fit people are less likely to be hospitalized due to COVID-19. When you prioritize exercise, you are training your body not just to be strong, but also to fight disease, improve mental health and increase longevity.
Plus, by taking care of yourself, you’re taking care of others, too — your loved ones who depend on you and the people you meet in the community.
Exercise truly is medicine. Medical experts have cited the role an active lifestyle plays in reducing risk of developing common diseases. Mladen Golubic, M.D., Ph.D., reported that 80% of chronic diseases are driven by lifestyle factors. Just by maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, following a healthy diet and not smoking, you are taking steps to save your own life. It is a simple formula, yet only one in three adults get the recommended amount of physical activity each week.
The key is to get started and make exercise a habit.
Improve mental health
Stress is an epidemic. It lurks in the shadows of a much larger and more visible epidemic, but it remains a critical threat to mental health, which can have long-term effects.
Whether we realize it or not, stress takes a toll on us. From major life changes to daily micro-stresses, sustained stress can lead to a weakened immune system, high blood pressure, heart disease and more.
While we cannot always control circumstances, by exercising you can release stress and build a healthy routine to help you take on whatever your day brings you. Exercise makes me feel better about my day, and that carries into my work and family life.
Finally, exercise can help you live a longer life. One of our members at the George I. Theisen Family YMCA can speak to this. At 84 years old, she comes to the Y every day to ride 6 miles on the stationary bike. A picture of health with no signs of slowing down, she is a living testament to the fact that regular exercise keeps her vibrant and strong.
The hardest part of obtaining the gift of health, like anything worth taking on, is making the commitment. At an all-encompassing health center like the YMCA of Greenville, getting started and making the commitment is as simple as making the decision to walk through the door and keep coming back. The Y welcomes everyone, at any stage of their life and at any stage of their health journey.
The Y meets you where you are, providing you with the encouragement, accountability and tools to be successful. When you keep coming back, you keep giving yourself and your family the gift of health.