Sheila Franklin by Sheila Franklin
on

Americans have become more aware of health and wellness in the last several years and "healthy living" and "active lifestyles" have become ubiquitous phrases in everyday life and in the media. Despite the growing awareness around the necessity to exercise and eat well, many people do not know how to get started or they lack the motivation to do so. 

The skyrocketing costs of healthcare for individuals, families and governments is in part directly attributable to physical inactivity and poor eating habits. But the price we pay is far greater than a fiscal one. Our nation’s national security is potentially at risk, due to a decreasing pool of qualified applicants to be trained and serve in our military. But the risk doesn’t stop there.

Our citizens across the country may also be at daily risk as cities, towns, counties and states are facing the same challenge in finding qualified candidates to serve in the role of first responders—police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians. It is likely that the pool of candidates for both our military and first responders may well be one and the same, with some exceptions. This exacerbates the problem, given the lack of qualified applicants.

In their 2017 Annual Report to Congress, the U.S. Community Preventive Services Task Force reported the following sobering facts:

  • Obesity among active duty service members has risen 61% between 2002 and 2011 (CDC, 2017 )
  • Service members are 47% more likely to experience a musculoskeletal injury if they are overweight or obese (Cowan, et al., 2011)
  • By the year 2030, 64% of potential recruits will not qualify for service because of their weight (Healthy Base Initiative, 2015)

The need to get America moving is indeed great, and well-qualified exercise professionals and health coaches are an integral part of the solution. Instilling good habits in youth is of paramount importance. This is an area in which you can make a major impact. Get involved at the community level by offering to volunteer at a school or community center and perhaps lead some youth physical activity programs. This can help grow your business as families, parents or staff may well become paying clients—and this can get the "word of mouth" train going.

You may consider dropping by a military recruitment office, or a fire or police station to have an informal discussion with staff about your desire to help and their needs. Or, design a unique program for high school and college students who may be considering careers in the military or as first responders that will help them increase their fitness, strength and stamina. 

Helping to prepare our future military and first responders will provide the satisfaction of feeling like your health and fitness knowledge and skills are not only helping individuals; but also protecting citizens across the country from a variety of threats to their safety and well-being. It will allow you to take pride in your community’s ability to protect and serve the citizens and our nation's ability to defend our country.

Learn more about what ACE is doing in our advocacy center.

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