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GET FIT What Does a Healthy Lifestyle Look Like?
You may not know it with how often the media bemoans how badly we eat or the rates of childhood obesity, but the United States is a nation obsessed with fitness. According to the International Health, Racquet, and Sportsclub Association, over 60 million Americans are members of a gym or health club. In Georgia alone, there are 1,082 health clubs, and over 1,890,000 Georgians visit these clubs regularly. While I know a lot of people are guilty of signing up for gym memberships in January and never going back after March, I believe it’s never too late to make your health a priority again. Americans have come a long way in terms of fitness culture. It wasn’t so long ago that regular exercise was considered strange. In 1968, the Chicago Tribune wrote a piece detailing a new phenomenon: jogging. At the time, running for fitness was reserved for boxers and other professional athletes. There are plenty of stories about regular folks who were tailed by the cops simply because they went for a run. As Americans grew more interested in fitness, they sought out ways to effectively work out. Before the internet, this meant scouring libraries for books and relying on word of mouth. The science itself was also in its infancy. Nobody had studied different exercise types or how much exercise we needed. Unsurprisingly, an approach that favored heavy weights and big muscles was one of the first trends to emerge. Released in 1977,
the documentary “Pumping Iron” explored the world of bodybuilding and introduced Americans to a muscle-bound Austrian named Arnold Schwarzenegger. Not long after its debut, an increasing number of people — usually young men — began showing up to places like Gold’s Gym in Venice Beach looking to get jacked. Five years later, Jane Fonda released the first of her many aerobics videos, providing fitness instruction to a much wider audience. As the ‘80s progressed, America’s appetite for exercise grew to epic proportions. You couldn’t turn on the TV without seeing an ad for a program designed to make you look and feel great. Bodybuilding and aerobics are the best forms of exercise for everyone. In fact, for some people just trying to build muscle can lead to serious injury. This is why figuring out how to get fit has become such a preoccupation in academia. In 2016, more than 25,000 undergraduates received a degree in kinesiology, aka exercise science. These folks and their professors research the safest and most effective ways to approach fitness. As our “... It’s never too late to make a change and make your fitness a priority.”
understanding of how to work out grows, exercises have become more diverse and accessible. Walk into a gym and you’ll find runners, swimmers, rock climbers, weight lifters, and yogis all doing different things but with the same goal of being fit and healthy. As we start the second half of 2019, I think it’s a good time to evaluate what we’ve done so far this year and where we want to be next January. Maybe you’ve fallen off the fitness bandwagon, but that doesn’t mean you’ve failed. In 1960, nearly 50% of American adults regularly smoked. Our idea of what constitutes a healthy lifestyle has transformed radically since then. It’s never too late to make a change and make your fitness a priority. -David Brauns
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