The following is an editorial by Armstrong Williams.
This past week, something happened that’s almost unheard of for me: I got the dreaded flu. It’s such a rare occurrence, 22 years since I was last affected, that I had forgotten what it felt like to not feel 100% all of the time. Over the course of several weeks of coughing, early to bed at 6:00 pm and constant sniffling and sneezing, I was able to reflect on how we as a society are on a disastrous path in terms of how we treat our overall health and wellness.
As I write this, I cannot help but wonder how many of us are still committed to various versions of “be healthier” New Year’s resolutions. Good health means so much and yet it is given such minimal consideration in many people’s day to day lives. I fear that this lack of day to day awareness might wind up costing us long term, not only a personal level but a national level.
The United States is in a health crisis and has been for quite some time. We can all remember the reports released in 1990s that showed that national obesity rates were rising – they were received with humorous headlines and soft commitments to get the numbers down. Flash forward 20 years and here we are: nearly half of Americans have heart disease and the CDC is suggesting that one-third of Americans will have diabetes by 2050 if current trends continue.
Keep in mind, obesity isn’t the only wellness concern that is vexing Americans. We don’t get enough exercise, we don’t get enough sleep and we spend way too much time in front of screens – a habit that will greatly impact younger generation. Our health crisis has many prongs and they’re resulting in not only a financial burden but also and perhaps most importantly a significant burden on quality of life. A recent study suggests that sleep deprivation and exhaustion alone cost the U.S. economy $411 billion per year.
The old Latin phrase “mens sana in corpore sano” (“a sound mind in a sound body”) is as true today as it was in the early Roman times. The reason that the adage has survived for hundreds of years is because it is important. The physical conditioning of the body and the health of the mind are inextricably linked. Various studies have all demonstrated that improved physical health and exercise translates into higher performance for brain activity and overall productivity. For me, spiritual connectedness is also directly connected to my mental and physical wellbeing.
I can think of many people who would choose to be healthier but think that they do not have time. Some say that there are not enough hours in the day to get proper sleep while others say that eating convenient pre-made foods allows them to focus on daily projects rather than spending hours cooking meals.
While I suspect a lot of these excuses are just that – excuses – they speak to a key point about our society that I also think needs to be addressed. Maybe it is time we put health and lifestyle front and center in our culture rather than the balances in our bank accounts or the work to which we dedicate so many hours.
We must reverse our current course which is marching us towards unhealthy lifestyle habits. What is the point of success if we are either not around or are physically incapable of enjoying it?
Human beings were not designed to live under the strange conditions that we do in this modern age: eating unnatural foods and staring endlessly into screens under unnatural light. Sitting down at desks and then in cars in traffic commuting home. This isn’t a fictional dystopian future from a sci-fi novel – that is the current lifestyle of hundreds of millions of people. There must-be a societal change in the way we approach our work and lifestyle habits. America is in need of a checkup.
When I found myself lying in bed with the flu, unable to work out or work and with limited communication with my friends and family it became overwhelmingly clear to me that health is wealth. There is simply nothing more precious or important than our health.
Let’s not let commitment to exercise or living a healthy lifestyle be reduced to a New Year’s resolution. Instead, let’s make it a focal point of our daily lives. We must eat nutritious and natural foods, exercise daily and get the sleep that we so desperately need. During 2019 I hope that more Americans will make their health as important as money, career and relationships. That is the true secret to success.