Choose Health

Each person is ostensibly tasked with directing their health behaviors and choices, whether this is a top priority or one that does not register as important, how we live, move, feed, and manage health, highly affects our overall well-being. There is no disputing the fact that we need to strive towards improvements in personal health behavior management. Our feeding behaviors have resulted in staggering levels of obesity and overweight, with the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey showing that in the U.S., 1 in 3 adults (30.7%) are classified as overweight and 2 in 5 adults are classified as obese (42.4%). In addition, 50% of people who begin an exercise program will have dropped out within six months and only 5% of adults participate in a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity daily.

It is a fundamental exercise science premise that regular, sustained movement has pervasive positive effects impacting (but not limited to) the cardio-respiratory system, neuro- muscular-skeletal system, immune system, endocrine system, cognition, metabolism, and emotional well-being. Optimal nutritional intake and daily movement can add years—many, many years—to our lives. If we live in our bodies and every moment of every day we experience the ramifications of our health choices—then why such a disconnect? Perhaps we need to begin to feel our way through. Albert Bandura, a seminal researcher in social cognitive theory proposed, “what we feel, affects what we think, and what we think, affects what we do.” If after a long, trying day at work we have muscular tension in our back, we are experiencing eye fatigue from hours in front of the computer, and our ability to generate enthusiasm for the tasks of the evening seems improbable—how might we recalibrate what we are feeling—take a walk! The physical, mental, and emotional improvements that come from a 20–30-minute moderate-intensity walk in a safe environment will impact how you are feeling in the moment, afterwards, and will inform your thinking/decision making the next time you need to adjust how you feel.

The idea is to get connected to how we feel, when we experience relief from the simple act of walking, it will affect what we think about achieving some relief and guide us right to the doing. Similarly, if we are striving for appropriate body composition because excessive body fat is highly correlated with disease incidence, then when we approach feeding, we bring this understanding to the choices and volume of food that we ingest. How we feel about feeding as an act of self-care and disease prevention, informs what we think about our feeding choices and what we ultimate choose to do. Feel—Think—Do; try it!