When you drive around your town in your regular routine, how many gyms of any kind do you see? In my hometown in south Louisiana, the highway by my house has 3 gyms in a two-mile stretch. How many personal trainers are doing house calls additionally in that stretch, I do not know.
I recently visited London for two weeks on vacation and found no gyms close by, including none in the hotel I stayed at. The hotel offered a map to run in Hyde Park and a running partner if a guest did not want to go alone. No gyms or health clubs nearby were even listed. This is quite different from American hotels that have a fitness center in them for registered guests.
Based on this information, an honest guess on healthy, active lifestyle and obesity rates would indicate Americans are more health conscious and have lower rates. In a report from the House of Commons dated March 2022, obesity rates in the UK are 28% of all adults, with an additional 36% classified as overweight. The CDC states the obesity rate is at 41% of adult Americans in a report dated 2017-2020. How can this be if we have more access to workout facilities in America and yet push half the adult population as obese?
I call this correlation the great oxymoron. We have so many opportunities to maintain a healthy weight and reduce risk factors of early death from heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Insurance companies offer free and reduced-price access to some gyms, meal prep services, and home workout equipment. Why are we not more fit as the leading world power? What could happen to American society and the cost of living if we dropped down to 28% obesity?
Another aspect of the UK is the portion size at restaurants compared to the United States. My son worked for McDonald’s during his last two years of high school and wanted to compare the London locations to American ones. Their large-sized drinks and fries are now what we consider medium. America’s drive for bigger, not necessarily better, lends to more obesity. Refills are not automatic and free regarding soft drinks in England. From an economic standpoint, having one soft drink is what most people do in England, which also reduces caloric intake. How much of your American large fries and soda are you throwing away? That’s wasted money and food.
Obesity is a simple math equation of more calories in than calories used. I have no problem being abrupt and hurting someone’s feelings to tell them the truth; obesity is a choice. With so many gyms, health clubs, and community centers in a two-mile radius, there are no excuses to find a place you can afford. Some national chains offer monthly memberships in the $10-$20 range. Eliminate one fast food meal per month, and you have one membership paid. Fast food is no longer cheap. A foot-long sandwich at Subway is almost $15 with tax, and that’s “healthy” fast food.
One area that inflation has not impacted is accessibility to exercise. Amazon still sells resistance bands for under $20, maybe under $15. You can get a quality home workout with adjustable resistance bands. On my vacation, I packed them in my suitcase and did a Tabata-style workout in my hotel room for 15 minutes while my son watched videos on his phone. Exercise can be done at very little cost! You don’t need a $5,000 Peloton or full-weight set with benches and squat racks in your garage. If you’re in that 41%, walking around the block and a one-time $15 purchase of resistance bands are plenty to get you going for the next 12 months. America is swimming in opulence and abundance compared to the rest of the world. We are still the land of freedom and opportunity regardless of your political leaning. Obesity does not care what your nationality is, and neither do the owners of gyms who take your money, they see only green! Switch spending that green on super-sized fried and processed foods for one meal each week and put it towards a gym membership. Your body, family, and employer will thank you because you’re in a better mood, less pain, and call out sick less to work and family events.