Keep Moving

By Jessey Borden and Lisa Beczkiewicz

We know that every human body needs to move. Seniors, boomers, generation Xers, millennials and children alike benefit from exercising daily.

Let’s take a closer look at where we stand in Montana, and at how we boomers can move more, and even encourage our friends and family to be more physically active.

Montana hasn’t escaped the obesity trend that is sweeping the nation. Obesity is defined as the state of abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health (World Health Organization, 2015).

Obesity is a term that every American has become very familiar with over the years. We have all become increasingly aware of the risks and diseases associated with being overweight or obese.

If you just looked at all the research and writing in the news and on the Internet, you would
think America knows everything we need to combat obesity, and that we must be doing very well in our efforts to curb the epidemic.

Unfortunately, this is not so.

In 1980, no more than 15 percent of residents in any state were obese. By 2014, the story was completely different. The worst state obesity rate in 1980 would be the best rate today.

In 2014, 42 states have a population that is 25 percent obese. Thirty of those 42 states have obesity
rates of 30 percent or more, and two have rates greater than 35 percent.

Montana is better off than most states. Our 2014 obesity rate was 26.4 percent. However, we shouldn’t
congratulate ourselves too much, because Montana’s 2000 obesity rate was only 15.6 percent. That is a big, bad change in a short amount of time.

Unfortunately, childhood obesity rates are going up even faster.

Obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years.

Childhood obesity is now one of the biggest national health threats.

Children who are overweight or obese are more likely to grow up to be obese or overweight adults.

About 70 percent of obese children have at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease and are
at greater risk for developing pre-diabetes, bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and social and psychological problems (Montana Healthy Foods and Communities Initiative, 2015).

These health problems continue into adulthood. Obesity is a risk factor for more than 60 chronic
diseases, including coronary artery disease, hypertension, liver and gallbladder disease, stroke,
dementia, depression, and cancer problems (Gaines, 2015).What can we do about this problem? How
do we make things better for our children and grandchildren? For starters, we need to move more.

The American Medical Association says an adult should have 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily,
and a child should have at least 60 minutes of moderately vigorous physical activity every day.

Physical activity is anything that gets your body moving. Activity doesn’t have to be something
you dread! Start with the things you like, even simple things like gardening or walking around the

Try out activities that interest you or give you joy. Hike, dance, swim or run. Experiment and go from there! Remember that your children and grandchildren are always observing you; your habits will affect their habits. You are already a role model, so be a positive one!

Birthday or holiday gifts offer a perfect chance to promote physical activity. Skip gifts with a screen, like movies or video games. Instead, give the children in your life the gift of play!

Gift them with something that requires them to be physically active. A scooter, ice skates, a sled, a
giant Frisbee, a soccer or basketball all encourage children and youth to go play.

An even better option is to give the gift of your time. Go to the park and kick the ball around, take
a walk in your neighborhood, learn to ice skate, or take a dip in the pool. The possibilities are endless, and Montana is a great place to get your body moving.

A child will cherish these memories, and it will help you form strong family connections. The energy and health benefits you will all start to see will be the gift that keeps on giving, for yourself and
future generations.

Jessey Borden works at the Missoula City-County Health Department as an intern for Let’s Move! Missoula and is currently completing her education requirements at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse toward a degree in Community Health Education. Lisa Beczkiewicz is the Let’s Move! Missoula coordinator, with the Health Promotion Division at the Missoula City-County Health Department, and can be reached by phone at 406-258-3895 or

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