Health and fitness is a bit of a blanket term. The two words mean slightly different things but they are commonly combined in discussion. The definition of this term has morphed significantly over the years and the industry around it has evolved significantly with many more people taking an interest in recent years due to the general unhealthiness of people in the United States. The concept of health can vary depending on context. Typically, this word is used to describe the condition of a person's physical well being, however, in some contexts the word is also used to describe the condition of a person's mental faculties (i.e. mental or psychological health). History
The intense focus on personal health is a relatively new trend but there has historically always been a concern for it. All the way back to the ancient Greeks, there has been a bit of debate on what it means to be healthy or well. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, said of health “Let thy food be thy medicine.” While we don't normally consider food to be medicinal (except in some cases), this phrase has some accepted validity as most health and medical professionals agree that a well-balanced diet is essential in preventing a myriad of diseases and conditions, many of which the western world is currently facing an epidemic of today.
Before the late 80s, health and fitness were subjects that were not considered to be very important for the general population. Most of the people who were really concerned with the issue of health and fitness were professional athletes and body builders. These people only constituted a small percentage of the population but still had a bit of an industry around their lifestyle. Today, the health and fitness industry is booming. Since Americans tend to have a very unhealthy diet, health and fitness advice is in high demand by individuals trying to change their unhealthy lifestyle.Factors Contributing to Health
Many factors can influence the general health of an individual and these factors do not have exclusive influence. Many of these factors are interrelated and one factor can weigh heavily on another. Some common factors for determining the overall health of an individual include:
In the United States Specifically
- Diet: Possibly the most important factor of all, the effects of a poor diet can dramatically influence the overall health of an individual. Conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and digestive problems such as acid reflux are all almost exclusively the result of a poor diet. It is estimated that the prevalence Type 2 diabetes could be reduced dramatically if a proper diet was followed by all.
- Activity Level: This is an independent factor that is also related to diet. Many people whose activity level is low to sedentary tend to also have very poor diets that are high in fats and sugars. Unfortunately, those who have these poor diets are also the people who could see the most benefit from an increase in physical activity.
- Genetics: This factor ties in to both diet and activity level but is much more difficult to accommodate and practically impossible to change. Many people are born with a genetic predisposition to various health problems such as heart disease or cancer. However, a proper diet and activity level can make for excellent preventative measures against such ailments..
The United States is a very large country that tends to be divided up into regions. As such, these regions seem to have very characteristic trends in many aspects. This includes trends in health and fitness:
Revised December 7th, 2016
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- Pacific Northwest: This region tends to be quite healthy and fit overall. While strenuous exercise is not incredibly common except among athletes, many people in this region tend to enjoy walking and hiking while sticking to healthier diets that are low in fat and vegan or vegetarian- inspired.
- The Deep South: This region's lifestyle is pretty much the opposite of the Pacific Northwest. Many people in this region are more often obese. Dietary habits in this region also tend to be destructive with a high fat, high protein, and high sugar content. People in this region are at an increased risk for complications such as diabetes and heart disease.