The Evolution of Well-Being and Spiritual Coaching
The objective of this paper is to identify the potential success and positive impact of life coaching and fitness training in the form of lifestyle fitness coaching on the overweight and obese population of the United States of America.
The Current Circumstances
As of 2010, obesity rates have topped out and are now remaining constant (Belluck, 2010). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 33.8% of adults in the U.S. are obese. That is nearly one-third of the population. In addition approximately 17%, or 12.5 million, children aged 2-19 years are obese (NHANES, 2008). During the years between 1985 and 2010, obesity rates saw a dramatic increase. In 1985 more than half of the country saw rates of obesity at or below 10%. By year 2000 22 of the 50 states saw obesity at or above 20% (CDC, 2010). Today no state has a prevalence of obesity less than 20% and 12 of these states (Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia) has a prevalence of 30% or higher (CDC, 2010). These same states with high levels of obesity also see high levels of health problems like diabetes and hyper-tension. As of February 2011, fewer than two in ten Americans engage in recommended levels of physical activity and more than 25% of them do not devote any period of time to exercise (Blackburn, 2011). On average, obese individuals spend 40% or more on health care and medication each year than their slimmer counterparts. Where exercise is relatively free, obesity-related disease costs an estimated $147 billion each year and the cost of diabetes alone is at $116 billion each year (Blackburn, 2011).
The Benefits of Healthy Living
The monetary benefits of adding regular physical activity to oneʼs daily life are astounding. Americans stand to save on average an estimated $1400 a year in medical costs by simply scheduling exercise into their day to day lives (Blackburn, 2011). The benefits do not end there however. New research done by Dr. Beth Levine of Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical center in Dallas published in the January, 2011 issue of Nature suggests the ability of exercise to speed up the removal of waste from inside the bodyʼs cells may be its most substantial. Cells accumulate waste called flotsam from everyday wear and tear.
Broken proteins, shreds of cellular membranes, viruses, bacteria, and aged mitochondria (organelles within cells that produce energy) constitute flotsam inside the cell (Reynolds, 2012). Most of the time the body cleans up the flotsam and reuses it for fuel through a process called autophagy. Autophagy happens when cells create specialized membranes that clean up the flotsam and takes it to the lysosome within the cell where it is burned for energy. Without autophagy, cells become overwhelmed by the waste and malfunction or die developing disease within the body such as diabetes and cancer. The research that Dr. Levine has done shows that autophagy increases when the bodyʼs cells experience physiological stress or exercise (Reynolds, 2012). The very building blocks of the body cannot function properly without regular physical activity.
The Mayo Clinic has a list of seven additional benefits of regular physical activity: exercise controls weight, combats health conditions and disease, improves mood, boosts energy, promotes better sleep, improves oneʼs sex life, and it produces fun (Mayo Clinic, 2011)! Federal guidelines suggest a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise plus two days of full-body strengthening each week. And yet, more that 25% of Americans do not exercise on a regular or consistent basis. Some say co-active or lifestyle fitness coaching, the hybrid of traditional life coaching, spiritual coaching, and fitness training, could be the key to assisting individuals in taking control of their health and achieving their life goals simultaneously.