Words of Wellness: Listen to the tape


Get a tape measure. What you don’t have one? Get creative with a piece of yarn (from a knitter on campus) and a ruler… and measure the largest portion of your waist between your belly button and the hipbone. Men, are you over forty inches? Women, are you over thirty-five inches?

If you answered yes, you are more likely to get heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and to die suddenly. In fact YOU are at increased risk for more than 20 major diseases!

According to the annual “F as in fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2011” by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Trust for America’s Health, “Since 1995, rates of obesity have doubled or nearly doubled in 17 states, and have not declined in any state. Twelve states now have obesity rates of about 30 percent compared to only four years ago when only one state was above 30 percent. Colorado has the lowest obesity rates and is the ONLY state with an obesity rate under 20 percent! The report calls obesity one of the most challenging health crises the nation has ever faced. The same report notes that obesity and physical inactivity is the second leading cause of preventable death in the US!!

What about our state? According to the Vermont Department of Health, Vermont’s obesity rates have risen from 13.4 percent to 23.5 percent in the last ten years.

Do the math, that’s one out of four adult Vermonters! We have seen a significant increase in our obesity rates just in the last two years! The full report is available at: www.healthyamericans.org.

The Fit & Healthy Vermonters initiative of the Health Department and community coalitions around the state have identified some key ingredients to address Vermont’s obesity epidemic.

These include policies to improve food offerings in schools and workplaces, increased opportunities for physical activity, improved sidewalks, walking trails and bike lanes, public education on healthy choices – such as menu labeling and the ‘Healthy Retailers’ signage project

At Johnson State College, we have ALL THAT! Yet I would venture to say that we as a college community probably share the same numbers…that one out of four of us are obese. We have access to healthy foods and exercise right here yet obviously barriers and obstacles exist!

It takes education, readiness and motivation to make necessary changes in our lives in regards to exercise and diet.

Need some convincing to exercise? Read The Mayo Clinic’s seven ways exercise can improve your life.


No. 1: Exercise controls weight

When you engage in physical activity, you burn calories. The more intense the activity, the more calories you burn.


No. 2: Exercise combats health conditions and diseases

Worried about heart disease? Hoping to prevent high blood pressure? No matter what your current weight, being active boosts high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good,” cholesterol and decreases unhealthy triglycerides. This one-two punch keeps your blood flowing smoothly, which decreases your risk of cardiovascular diseases. In fact, regular physical activity can help you prevent or manage a wide range of health problems and concerns, including stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, and certain types of cancer, arthritis and falls.


No. 3: Exercise improves mood

Need an emotional lift? Or need to blow off some steam after a stressful day? A workout at the gym or a brisk 30-minute walk can help. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. You may also feel better about your appearance and yourself when you exercise regularly, which can boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem.


No. 4: Exercise boosts energy

Regular physical activity can improve your muscle strength and boost your endurance. Exercise and physical activity deliver oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and help your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. And when your heart and lungs work more efficiently, you have more energy to go about your daily chores.


No. 5: Exercise promotes better sleep

Struggling to fall asleep? Or to stay asleep? Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep. Just don’t exercise too close to bedtime, or you may be too energized to fall asleep.


No. 6: Exercise puts the spark back into your sex life

Do you feel too tired or too out of shape to enjoy physical intimacy? Regular physical activity can leave you feeling energized and looking better, which may have a positive effect on your sex life. But there’s more to it than that. Regular physical activity can lead to enhanced arousal for women. And men who exercise regularly are less likely to have problems with erectile dysfunction than are men who don’t exercise.


No. 7: Exercise can be fun

Exercise and physical activity can be a fun way to spend some time. It gives you a chance to unwind, enjoy the outdoors or simply engage in activities that make you happy.

The bottom line on exercise

Exercise and physical activity are a great way to feel better, gain health benefits and have fun. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that healthy adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week and strength training exercises at least twice a week. Overcome barriers to your exercise routine and get moving!

Johnson State College has all of the resources we need to reduce obesity and improve our health! If you have further questions or would like me to come to your dorm or club and discuss these topics further, simply email me at [email protected]