Jina Kim, MPH, is wellness program coordinator, Adventist Risk Management, Silver Spring, Maryland, United States.

As pastors do the words “I’ll do it later” or “I don’t have time” sound familiar? Have you wanted to set goals in order to live a healthier lifestyle but needed a little push to get motivated? It’s a new year, and no matter where you are it is an opportunity for a fresh start.

Think about the different elements that have prevented you from establishing a regular exercise regimen and eating a healthy meal each day. What are some common barriers to exercise and healthy meal planning? What types of exercise are important to include? How can you eat a complete, balanced diet?

Obesity is still a major public health concern as the latest projections globally were approximately 1.6 billion overweight adults and at least 400 million obese adults in 2005.

The World Health Organization further estimates that by 2015, approximately 2.3 billion adults will be overweight and more than 700 million will be obese. At least 20 million children under that age of 5 years were overweight globally in 2005.*

By setting an example to your children and church congregations, you can help break the deleterious pattern. Research demonstrates the power of role modeling that can help increase awareness and education to change unhealthy health habits and behaviors, which can in turn ameliorate the health status.

Overcoming and breaking barriers to fitness

The most common excuse used with the topic of exercise is I don’t have enough time.

From visiting members to conducting various meetings, it can be pretty challenging.

• Squeeze in short, 10-minute walks throughout the day. Exercise does not have to be grueling and done hours on end.

• Get with your youth group. Play a sport or other outdoor activities. Time does not seem like a factor when you’re having fun with energetic people.

• Get up earlier in the day. You can spread it out to twice a week and add more on later.

• Play with your children or grandchildren. A game of tag or doing household duties together can build good family values as well as burn extra calories.

Other barriers to exercise are boredom, tiredness, laziness, or all of the above.

• Exercise does not have to be a chore. Spice it up. Try something new, creative, interesting, and fun.

• Gaining more energy is a benefit of exercise. Just take the first step and do it.

• Most physical activities and movement are beneficial to your health. If you like to garden, swim, or play tennis, go for it.

Exercise tips

Moderate exercise of 30 minutes, five days a week is recommended.

• Include a cardio workout such as running, biking, or swimming, which can help your heart rate get going. Heart disease is the number one common illness worldwide. Controlling risk factors can counteract serious health consequences.

• Strength training increases endurance, strength, toning of muscles, and aids in weight loss. If you do not have weights or other equipment accessible, you can start with push-ups and sit ups on the floor. Two sets of 15 repetitions are recommended. Adjust the intensity and frequency at your own risk.

• Walk more. It is recommended to walk 8,000–10,000 steps daily.

• If possible, ride your bicycle or walk instead of taking other modes of transportation.

• Prevent a sedentary lifestyle. For example, walk while using the phone; take a stretching break at your desk; use a chair to sit and then stand with proper posture for 50 repetitions.

Meal planning

• Increase consumption of fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains (examples: barley, brown rice, oats, and quinoa) legumes, nuts, and seeds. Variety is the key.

• Reduce sugars, sodium, and foods high in fat. Many of these foods are shown to be addictive and it’s important to alter your mind and taste buds and choose other palatable foods.

• Limit eating out during the week, and work together with your spouse or family to take healthy meals to work or on the go. Accountability helps to encourage healthy eating.

• Bring your favorite fruit with you. The more filling and fibrous, the better it is for you.

• When you travel or go on a vacation make healthy choices and eat in moderation.

In order to take better care of others, take care of yourself. Remember to recite 1 Corinthians 3:16 as a reminder that your body is God’s holy temple. This new year, add a new routine of fun-filled physical activity and nutritious meals by taking gradual steps to a healthier, new you.

* World Health Organization Media Centre, “Obesity and
Overweight,” World Health Organization, http://www.who.
int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs311/en/
(accessed November
25, 2009).

Medical consultants: Allan Handysides and Peter Landless.


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Jina Kim, MPH, is wellness program coordinator, Adventist Risk Management, Silver Spring, Maryland, United States.

January 2010

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