Leading the young to fitness
This past Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association reported that approximately one third of US teens could not pass a treadmill fitness test. The study suggests that this population may be at a higher risk for heart disease later in life.
There are loads of studies demonstrating the benefits of physical activity-from stronger cardiovascular health to improved mental well-being. We especially liked the results of a recent study by TheLadders.com which reported that 75% of executives surveyed said good physical fitness is critical for success at the executive level and being overweight is a serious career impediment. Yet, despite all this knowledge, health care costs continue to rise due in part to rising obesity and poor physical fitness.
If the JAMA study is any indication about the health of the next generation of worker bees, it does not bode well for this trend. However, corporations aren't just waiting around for costs to come down. Many are implementing programs to improve the health of their workforces such as cash incentives for losing weight, free health club memberships, and/or other creative measures (e.g. private labeling our service!). Some companies have adopted a more punitive approach. Weyco, a Michigan based medical benefits administrator, has fired employees who refuse a tobacco test. Scotts Miracle-Gro (5,000+ employees) recently instituted a smoking ban-on or off the job.
So what about our teen problem? The optimist in me believes that leading by example is a good first step. Personal observation repeatedly confirms that kids imitate their parents. Our vegetarian, organic food loving friend's son refused our milk recently because it's not organic! My brother, as a kid and today, eschews green vegetables-as do his kids. A yoga friend (and overall fitness enthusiast) recently brought her daughter to class and I learned that the 13 year old is traveling to Brazil to play soccer.
So I guess it's up to us "old" folks-.