Thursday, June 17, 2010

Non-profit Gym Attacks Low Income Obesity

Obesity is epidemic in America. More than one in three of us are obese today and another third of us are overweight and "growing" in the wrong direction. Being severely overweight leads to diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, cancers and a host of other chronic problems. Besides the well established negative consequences of obesity on our health, the sheer scope of the problem poses possibly insurmountable challenges for our ability as a society to provide affordable healthcare.

The obesity problem is especially serious in lower income neighborhoods and among lower income populations. In such locales fast food is ubiquitous, healthy eating choices are often limited and the genuine and demanding challenges of earning a living often move nutrition and exercise "off the table". The problem is compounded by the fact that such neighborhoods are often intimidating or even unsafe for people who might want to take up an outdoor exercise program, and gym facilities are either too expensive or simply not available.

Healthworks, a non-profit organization in Boston, MA, dedicated to promoting the health and empowerment of women and children through fitness outreach and community-based efforts, has stepped up to do something about this. And their efforts are making a huge difference in the lives of women in one of the city's economically challenged neighborhoods. For as little as $10 a month (or free with a doctor's recommendation), women are provided with access to a safe, secure, fully equipped fitness facility. And its changing lives. Check out the entire story here.

Without a doubt the world has its share of lazy, stupid people. But we sometimes attribute those characteristics unfairly to people who are bound by circumstances and conditions beyond their control. The Healthworks story demonstrates that, given a chance, people can and will step up and take responsibility for their own wellness. And for all our sakes, we'd better.

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