Wellness Wednesday: A Culture of Fitness

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Many Americans are taking a second look at daily meal menus and making intentional efforts to avoid excessive fat and high calories. Some health clubs offer 24-hour access, while fitness equipment sales are on the rise.

The apparent focus on being healthy and fit suggests longevity may also be on the rise, with the average life expectancy in the United States at 78.7 years, the highest ever, based on 2010 preliminary data from the Center for Disease Control (76.6 years in 2021). On the other hand, U.S. life expectancy ranks well below many other developed countries—thirty-eighth in the world.

Ironically, the researchers were not able to attribute the relatively unfavorable ranking to the size of our stately nation, its racial diversity, or socioeconomic status, but rather to high rates of obesity, tobacco use, and lack of exercise. Obesity actually ranks high on the list of primary factors, with approximately one-third of U.S. adults (33.8 percent) and approximately 17 percent (or 12.5 million) children and adolescents between the ages of 2 and 19, cited as being obese. Sadly, because of the magnitude of this problem, many chronic illnesses and diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, and stroke are costing billions in health care annually, and are even considered the norm during the aging process. The colossal problem, however, has not gone unnoticed. First lady Michelle Obama, in a nationwide effort to solve the challenge of childhood obesity, has developed Let’s Move, a program that assists children and their parents in understanding the importance of eating healthful foods. Many other initiatives, both locally and nationally, are underway to counter the obesity problem that can ultimately have literally “grave” consequences.

Long before the weight-loss programs and initiatives, personal trainers, fitness clubs, the Hollywood, Atkins, and South Beach diets, God’s Word provided disease-proof dietary guidelines designed to keep us healthy and extend longevity (see Genesis 1:29, Leviticus 11, and Deuteronomy 14). Yes, God promised Israel that they would not encounter the diseases of the nations surrounding them if they would follow His law, including His dietary counsel. “If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and will give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee” (Exodus 15:26). His counsel is still valid today, and God is still concerned about the health and spiritual well-being of His beloved children. “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health even as thy soul prospereth” (3 John 2).

The writers in this issue have penned their articles with you in mind—whether you are in the best of health, seeking to become healthier, or facing life-threatening health challenges. My hope is that you will read each article, and prosper in both spiritual and physical health.

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