We are often quick to judge when people do things like Facebook what they eat for breakfast or break up via text message. Life is full of judgment. You may simply enjoy social networking or just have a hard time with confrontation, but choices we make about our health can involve others and snowball in ways we may not see coming. By choosing to live optimally, you can live a life of financial security, happiness in relationships and a sense of community. Choose to live an unhealthy life and it’s likely you’ll find yourself with more hardships that you can handle. Even with a gym on practically every corner, a Gallop-Healthways Well-Being poll says only 49.6% of Americans  work out for 30 minutes three times a week, 18.%%  only workout 1-2 times a week and 31.3% don’t work out regularly at all. Mind you, as any busy person will tell you lack of time, pricey gym memberships, location, environment and convenience are the main reasons people say they don’t exercise. But at the end of the day, how could not going to the gym affect your health, personal relationships and social involvement? Would the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle change people’s view of you? Should it?
Being overweight or obese has also been linked to lack of productivity in the workplace and increased health care expense. So, when an employer is hiring, should the person they are interviewing be put on trial for his/her weight? Some would say yes considering that research put out by Allergan, Inc. shows obesity costs employers $73.1 billion a year. In addition to how it affects employers, a 2009 study done by the Center of Diseases and Prevention, reports that in 2006 obese people paid 42% more in health care than someone within a normal weight range. And that’s if they are able to get health insurance. Many insurance companies consider obesity a pre-existing condition, thus denying coverage. When money is involved, the stakes are raised for those who are overweight and for those around them. Risk the cost of a simple gym membership and it could cost you a lot more.
Besides the increased risk of disease, cost of health care and the chance your next job interview may not solely be about your skills, how does not being active affect your personal relationships? Match.com is a great resource for finding your next date or maybe even your next relationship. All of your attributes are listed for everyone to see, including your level of exercise. But what if your date-to-be wrote on their profile page that he/she works out five or more times a week and then when you meet them, they say they don’t remember the last time they worked out? Even if your date is just not into exercise, would that also mean you might just not be into them? It’s a fine line to draw. Ideally all of one’s attributes would be considered before deciding date two is out of the question. But if for whatever reason they’re not heavily into health and fitness and you are, then it would also be correct to say you simply don’t have all that much in common, period.
Whether or not you choose to date someone based on their physical activity level is up to you. But exercise does have numerous benefits for relationships including increased sex drive and bonding time with your partner. Yet, what if you marry the man or woman of your dreams who has always been healthy, and then one day stops working out entirely and gains twenty pounds? Of course you love them with all your heart, but their general health and factors in the bedroom are now compromised to some degree. Added weight lowers self-esteem and affects libido and fertility. And if you’re not feeling as confident about yourself due to a few added pounds, you’re less likely to want to hit the sheets with your partner. Plus certain health risk factors like high cholesterol and diabetes, which can be fought through exercise and proper diet, can decrease blood flow to the genitals in both men and woman. This can clog blood vessels and lead to impotence and erectile dysfunction in men and can decrease fertility and sexual desire in woman. Needless to say, a roll in the hay can burn nearly three hundred calories. So get active in and outside the bedroom to better connect with your partner!
Let us not forget how social working out has become. Dinner conversations now consist of what gym we want to join or what fitness class we heard was amazingly brutal. Shopping for clothes, now has a fitness element to it with activewear stores like Lululemon encouraging us to dress the part. This social aspect is mood-boosting and keeps working out fun. It also allows us to share in each other’s experiences as a community and provides us with an extra arm of support. With all this positive energy, exercising with your friends can be just as much fun as going to the movies and eating popcorn-without the extra 1,200 calories of course. However, at some point you may’ve seen someone overweight eating fast food like there’s no tomorrow. We may not know why someone who’s already at risk continues to eat unhealthy, but there’s a good chance it involves their emotional health. According to the Center for Diseases and Prevention, 1 in 20 people are depressed at some point in their lives. Depression and obesity often keep each other alive. Emotional eating may temporarily relieve the pain of depression, but the longer food is used as a band-aid, the more likely the cycle will continue. Exercising lowers anxiety and depression, and  builds self-image and confidence. Finding friends and groups who are active can kill two birds with one stone. Not a gym person? One of the top reasons people don’t work out is because of the environment when gyms become so overcrowded you can’t get on a machine. Groups like Chicago Sport and Social and Meet Up Groups provide endless opportunities outdoor opportunities to get you out of the house, meet people and raise feel-good endorphins. People work best when surrounded by people who live positive lives. Being a couch potato allows you to miss out on all the social, healthy things life has to offer.
A consistent exercise and diet can save your health, pocketbook, job, relationships, social life and mental health. Some of us already have that foresight, but rather than pass judgment and enable sedentary choices, try paying it forward and encourage those in your life to make better calls about their life. A gym has more than weights and treadmills in it.
Photo Credits: Guy with sub by Unknown. Couple by .shock. Yoga girls by Andresr.

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