In 20 years, four out of ten American adults will be overweight, according to a recent study published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Even today more than 78 million U.S. adults are obese.
Faced with these staggering figures, the U.S. Surgeon General, the nation’s leading spokesman on matters of public health, says Americans need to be more active. To set an example, Surgeon General Regina Benjamin went for a walk this week. Lots of other people went along.
Benjamin is the 18th surgeon general of the United States. On Wednesday, she led what she called a "walk to wellness" through the streets of Washington -- to encourage people to take a break from work and be active. As "America’s doctor", she says it’s important to make healthy habits part of everyday life.
“Health doesn’t just occur in a doctor’s office or hospitals only. It also occurs where we live, where we learn, where we work, where we play and where we pray,” Benjamin said,.
From her early days as the founder of a rural health clinic in Alabama, to her present leadership role in the advancement of preventive care, Benjamin has been going across the country promoting a national prevention strategy.
“Our vision is to move our country, based on sickness and disease, to one based on wellness and prevention. And, our goal is to increase the number of Americans who are healthy at every stage of life," she said.
Wearing workout gear, or in their regular work clothes, a crowd turned out to join Benjamin Wednesday -- walking about two kilometers through the nation’s capital.
“I actually really enjoyed seeing the surgeon general come out and show us all that walking and physical activity is important for everyone,” said Rachel Sigler.
“A lot of Americans are overweight and we really need to get fit. It’s really an excellent idea. I felt I burned extra calories so it was wonderful,” said June Joyer.
To get the walkers even more pumped up, Benjamin enlisted Cornell McClellan, the personal trainer for President Obama and his family. McClellan, who led the pre-walk warm up, says if the first family can do it, everyone should.
“They are what we call the ideal client. They are motivated and knowledgeable. Now, as a trainer I do have to push them from time to time so they can be a little upset with me, but generally they are very easy to motivate,” McClellan said.
But even as the first family’s trainer, McClellan says he still has to find time to do his own workout.
“I have three teenage sons. They are all athletes and I like to work out with them. It’s a great way to spend quality time with your children and it helps to push me because I like to beat them when we work out," McClellan said.
Whether it’s finding quality time with your children or taking a break from work, Benjamin says staying active is a key factor in winning the battle against a number of preventable diseases.