Nowadays, America is seeing a kind of fitness revolution. People are starting to become more concerned about their diet and exercise, and working harder to achieve that athletic or model look. For a country that has struggled with obesity for years, it’s great to see that America is more concerned than ever about getting lean. The problem, however, is that the typical model presents an unrealistic – and even unhealthy – standard to strive for.
Underweight people face a number of health risks, especially for women, growing children and teens. The first, and most vital problem, is a weakened immune system. Due to a lack of nutrients, your body will be unable to store energy, and may be unable to fight or recover from illness. Your bones will not receive enough calcium or vitamin D, making them more fragile and putting you at risk for injury. What will be most apparent to you, however, are hair loss and anemia, which impairs your blood’s ability to bring oxygen to cells. Anemia is caused by an iron, folate, and B12 deficiency, bringing headaches, dizziness, and fatigue with it. Children and teens face the additional complication of inhibited growth and development, while women risk problems of infertility and irregular or absent periods.
Be careful, too, if you decide to develop a six-pack. A six-pack takes hard exercise, but mostly it requires a very particular diet. That’s because a six-pack is an indication of very low body fat, not abdominal strength; in fact, its benefits are purely aesthetic. If you are still interested, make sure you do proper research. A six-pack takes a lot of hard work and discipline to obtain and maintain, so it might not be the best choice for your lifestyle. Some might even find it detrimental to their well-being.
Instead of making an image your goal, you should focus on maintaining a healthy body mass index (BMI, which is weight in kilograms divided by height in meters). For those with a BMI less than 18.5, you’re going to need to put on more weight. But you shouldn’t take this as a bad thing. By adjusting your diet to include nutrient-rich foods – such as nuts, high-protein meats, and whole grain bread, in addition to healthy snacks like trail mix, protein bars, and avocados – you can put on healthy weight. Consider strength training too, like weight-training or yoga. These exercises will help you gain muscular weight and bring a host of other benefits, including improved energy, better sleep, and disease prevention. While BMI is not a complete indication of health, working on maintaining it, and not an image, can help you be significantly happier and healthier.
Darren Johnson, Staff Writer