The New Year’s resolutioners are so cute.
They were all over town Thursday and Friday, walking the neighborhoods, prowling the produce department at the grocery store, listening to their “getting fit” playlists.
They need our help.
Because helping them helps the economy of the Pensacola metro area.
Say what? you say.
Say amen, I say.
When you look at things that are a drag on the progress and prosperity of a community, you need to look at our waistline with the same critical eye you turn toward the prevalence of “shovel-ready” commercial property.
The Partnership for a Healthy Community has been studying the health of the area since 1995. The findings consistently show that we smoke and are overweight at higher rates than our peer counties.
The diseases that are linked to those behaviors — heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer — also haunt our citizens as a result.
What does someone else’s fast food habit cost you?
Poor health status is expensive in terms of lost productivity, absenteeism and costs for insurance plans.
Employees who smoke or use tobacco products cost employers in the two counties an estimated $512 million annually. Overweight or obese employees cost about $318 million per year in just Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.
Alyssa Curtis is community health improvement coordinator with the Partnership’s program Live Well Northwest Florida.
Ahead of a community health summit in November, Curtis said Live Well can help employers set up wellness programs for their employees as a way to get a tangible win in the fight against the costs of poor health.
Dr. Earl Crosswright told me last year that the threat that poor health poses to the community is real. And that, based on the 1,500 or so patients he sees every year, the only way to turn the tide is to make it a problem in which every one of us is invested.
Whether we shop at Everman’s or Barnes.
When food is part of our community or church life, ditch the cookie table for a fruit table. Build parks that have equipment that encourage kids to move. Reinstitute physical education classes every day in public schools. Make sure folks at all income levels have access to full grocery stores with a good selection of fresh foods.
The City of Pensacola is promoting 2015 Fitness Revolution, a series of free fitness events every Saturday in January at the Community Maritime Park. It will offer tryouts of many different fitness classes, activities and options to battle the enemy of sticking with a fitness routine — boredom with the same old same old workout.
“It’s really almost like a wine-tasting but for fitness,” said organizer Justin Paul CMP Program Specialist for the City of Pensacola.
Taste on, friends.
Walk a block or two rather than endlessly circle the parking lot for the primo spot closest to the door. Go play outside — with your kids if you have some. That would be good for both of you. If you only have 15 minutes a day to take a walk, take it.
Small steps are better than Cheetos.
Building a community that really helps people be more active, eat better, quit smoking, drink less and keep their weight down is an investment in the economic future of Pensacola.
As much as any tax abatement program. As much as job training training programs or workforce development efforts. As much as slick commercial or glossy brochure.
To build a better Pensacola, we have to get up and move ourselves.
Originally published, Jan. 2, 2015.