FORT HOOD, Texas - The U.S. has the second highest adult obesity rates out of developed nations and physically active jobs currently make up only about 25 percent of the nation’s workforce, making any physical activity a person can do in their spare time more important.
These statistics, from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and American Heart Association respectively, coupled together show a nation that is finding it more and more difficult to stay healthy.
“We are definitely a sedentary society,” said Chuck Engle, who currently holds the world record for career marathon wins. “We’ve moved away from hunting and gathering to a more technological era.”
Despite the technological advances that make our lives easier, maintaining a healthy lifestyle requires being physically active, according to the American Heart Association. For many people, health is the motivating factor for taking up an activity such as running.
“When I got out of the Army, I thought I did not have to run anymore,” said Jimmy Davis, a former command sergeant major. “I had some health issues in 1985 and began to realize that staying active was important… I started running 5Ks.”
“It just became a lifestyle,” said Davis, a former combat engineer. “I still run and love it. I think that running has benefited me greatly; I am 75 and still feel good.”
Davis explains that running can become addictive. For him running is not just for health anymore, but also for fun.
For other runners such as Spc. Matthew Volesky, a Satellite Communications Operator Maintainer with 3rd Cavalry Regiment, running can bring clarity and peace of mind.
“The feeling of the wind hitting you and seeing how fast you can pace yourself is freeing,” Volesky said. “I usually like to find a quiet place to run to think about the day’s events.”
The feeling a runner experiences when he is finished running is more than worth it according to Engle, who has won 169 marathons. He believes many people may not run due to lack of motivation, but people would find enjoyment in walking/running activities if they gave it a chance.
“One of my friends suggested I try running marathons,” Engle said. “They said it was a twenty miler followed by a 10K. I was already running with college kids when I was coaching, so I decided to run my first marathon. I liked how it challenged me; even though I was in pain when I finished, I was hooked.”
“Running will change your life,” said Engle, who ran the Army Marathon March 2, at Belton, Texas, with a run time of 2 hours, 47 minutes and 1 second. “It is revolutionary for a lot of people. Running can test the limits of the human spirit, but you have to go out and do it. That is when you discover a lot about yourself and what is inside you.”
A person needs to start off slow if they have not been physically active, Engle said. He encourages people to just start off walking a little bit before taking up anything more physically strenuous.
“It is going to take a while, but don’t give up,” said Volesky. “You are not going to start running 5Ks overnight, but if you chip away at it you will eventually get there.”
“As a country, we need to start being more physically active,” said Engle. “It is scary to see the current obesity rates in children; I encourage parents to get involved and motivate their kids. There are many running events in the local areas that people can get involved in.”