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Photo by: Isaac Babcock - Smokers may have to look elsewhere to eat with more restaurants along Park Avenue joining a pledge to ban patio smoking.
Winter Park / Maitland Observer Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016 7 months ago

A giant healthy step: quit smoking

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Hold eachother accountable
by: Patrick McGaha Jr.

All the pomp and circumstance of the holidays are here! More social gatherings, more wine, more candy and cookies, less exercise. All rolled together with a decreased life expectancy. Ummm, what?! You read that right. The Centers for Disease Control released their Mortality in the United States data report last week, and our life expectancy has actually decreased, despite all of the advancing medical technology and progressive research. How is this and what can you do to not be part of this trend?

One of the important findings in this report is that some of the major contributors to the increased mortality rate are all factors within our control. With heart disease leading the path, followed by respiratory diseases and diabetes, there are things that we can do every day to combat these things. The obesity rate in the U.S. has been on the rise for years and goes hand-in-hand with some of the factors that contribute to the increased mortality rate.

Let’s start with an obvious step that contributes to heart disease, cancer, respiratory diseases and other causes of death: Smoking. Quitting today can be one of the biggest stepping stones to increasing life longevity and spending many more holiday seasons with family and friends. Your sense of smell and your ability to taste foods get better, you can breathe easier and people don’t talk behind your back about how your clothes smell (so you get more popular!). If you Google “How to quit smoking” there are countless resources to help step-by-step and make the path easier. If you have a friend who smokes, hold each other accountable. Starting an exercise routine to help you stay busy can be a great help, as well.

Even if you don’t smoke, starting an exercise routine sooner, rather than later, can help you reduce your risk of heart disease, respiratory diseases and diabetes, all of which are the three of the top 10 contributors to death. When you’re sitting with your family and friends during this holiday season, ask yourself if you want to be with them next year or the year after. Start an exercise routine with some strength training, cardio and flexibility aspects to it. The weather is beautiful right now, so get outside and take a long walk. I walked to work a few days ago — about a 5-mile round trip — and I felt more alert when I got to work and more accomplished when I got home. Increasing your heartrate every day can help stave off some of these terrible diseases and keep you around for many more holiday seasons.

Each holiday season, however, brings another opportunity to eat, drink and merry! More parties, lead to more food and more drink, which then leads to even more food! Like Kevin O’Leary says on “Shark Tank,” “Stop the madness!” Overeating during the holidays can actually lead to new and worse habits in the New Year, so make healthier decisions at the holiday parties by opting for the veggie tray and drinking plenty of water before and during to stave off wanting to overeat. Because going into the New Year with bad habits is a sure way to make it an unhealthier 2017.

So why wait for the New Year for a New Year’s Resolution? Did you know that many gyms, like Anytime Fitness in Winter Park, have great new membership deals during December? Join a gym now and get some guidance on how to combat the holiday weight and build better habits before the New Year. Many people think that on Jan. 1 everyone rushes into the gym to join, when in fact, many people are still extending the holidays into the New Year and we don’t see increased memberships until a couple weeks into the New Year. It’s a “Ready, set, procrastinate!” mentality at the beginning of the year, which can set a tone for the rest of the year. So, this year, get started now. Don’t procrastinate! If you haven’t worked out in a gym before or haven’t in a long time or if gyms are just intimidating to you, now is the time to start because there are even fewer people in the gym than usual. Now is the time to learn and better habits for your future that will increase the number of years you’ll live.

Patrick McGaha Jr., member experience manager at Anytime Fitness, Winter Park, is dedicated to building a welcoming environment in the club, conducive to helping members and clients reach their health fitness goals. To get your fitness and nutrition related questions answered by a certified personal trainer, or for a free personal training session, call us at 321-972-5833 or email [email protected].

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