The 30 Year Pandemic!

Chronic diseases, such as asthma, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, are widespread and rising dramatically in the United States. Largely preventable factors such as poor lifestyle choices and lack of access or emphasis on preventive care have led to dramatic increases in chronic disease rates within the past three decades. Not surprisingly, chronic diseases have become the leading cause of death and disability in the United States, accounting for 70% of deaths. The impact of chronic disease affects nearly every American, directly, or indirectly, to some degree. Chronic disease is associated with worsening health and quality of life, eventual permanent disability with time, and a reduced life span. Indirectly, chronic disease takes a toll on the nation’s economy by lowering productivity and slowing economic growth. Today, corporate health-care costs are escalating, and 75 cents of every dollar spent on health care, or about $1.7 trillion annually, goes toward treating chronic illness.

Despite widespread knowledge that most chronic diseases are preventable and manageable through early detection, treatment, and healthy living, the numbers are continuing to rise. The major chronic condition often associated with cardiovascular disease is obesity, which is currently a worldwide problem. At present 66% of Americans older than age 20 are overweight. Approximately 34% of Americans are obese, which equates to approximately 72 million Americans. The same trend is occurring among youth (ages 2–19) as more than nine million young people are overweight or obese. Excessive body weight is associated with a myriad of health risks including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, osteoarthritis, some types of cancer, pregnancy complications, shortened life expectancy, and decreased quality of life. In the United States, approximately 80% of all persons older than 65 have at least one chronic condition, and 50% have at least two.

In 2002, the World Health Organization recognized lack of physical activity as a significant contributor to the risk factors for several chronic diseases, but unfortunately, few adults achieve the minimum recommended 30 or more minutes of moderate physical activity on 5 or more days per week. Physical activity has been proven to reduce the risk of chronic diseases and disorders that are related to lifestyle, such as increased triglycerides and cholesterol levels, obesity, glucose tolerance, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, and strokes. More importantly, some research indicates that discontinuing (or significantly decreasing) physical activity can lead to a higher risk of chronic diseases that are related to lifestyle.

Exercise training programs need to address all the components of health-related physical fitness using safe and effective training principles. Unfortunately, many training programs and fitness equipment used to condition the musculoskeletal system are often based on unsound training principles and guidelines. Kinétique recognizes that today’s client is not ready to begin physical activity at the same level that a typical client could 20 or 30 years ago. Therefore, today’s training programs cannot stay the same as programs of the past. The new mindset in fitness should cater to creating programs that address functional capacity, as part of a safe program designed especially for each individual person. In other words, training programs must consider an individual’s goals, needs, and abilities in a safe and systematic fashion. This is best achieved by introducing our integrated approach to program design.