I watched an eye-opening segment on NBC Nightly News about Latino women in Phoenix who joined a local fitness program. It covered, briefly, several aspects of why Latino women have a higher-than-average obesity rate in this country, including their traditional roles as caregivers and their traditional diets. But what struck me most was the part about exercise. The women interviewed lived in poor neighborhoods and didn’t feel safe walking for exercise. Instead, they went to places like Big Lots or WalMart and walked around the store’s parking lots.
Wow. Slap me in the face.
I didn’t realize until that moment how much I take exercise for granted. And shame on me. Shame, shame on me. I pissed and moaned this morning – in my office which doubles as my exercise room – that I didn’t have the energy to work out. I was “tired.” I didn’t “feel like it.” I was behaving like a spoiled brat. My desk sits next to an elliptical machine and stationary bike. My hand weights are stacked against the wall, as is my barbell. But still….wahhh! Big baby me didn’t “feel” like exercising.
Poverty and obesity are separate subjects and yet interconnected. Obesity rates among the those living in poverty is substantially higher than middle- and upper-class families. Eating right and exercise is the least of their concerns, and yet the women in Phoenix were changing their way of thinking and behaving. It’s just that the odds were stacked against them. The things I take for granted are beyond their reach and yet, they persevere.
I found Poverty News Blog tonight as I searched for more information on this phenomenon. The statistics regarding statewide childhood obesity rates was particularly alarming in the blog entry “Poverty Fuels Obesity Rates.” Children and adults need access to affordable and safe exercise opportunities. We can’t solve our country’s obesity problem, particularly in light of this economic crisis, if the poorest among us don’t have the opportunity to move, to feel not only the physical but the psychological affects of exercise.
As more fast food restaurants and fewer grocery stores invade the poorest of neighborhoods, how do we stem the tide of obesity? This is all off the top of my head, a reaction to a news story, so I don’t have any answers, only questions, and I’m asking you for your input. In this season of giving, we might not have a lot to give, but where can our resources best be utilized, those of us who believe fitness should be accessible to everyone? I’d appreciate any feedback you have.
As for me and my whining about exercising…I’m still ashamed, but I’ll use the energy of it to spur me into action and a new way of thinking.