We’ve all heard the drill: Eat right and exercise, and you’re bound to improve your health and live longer. The fitness revolution escalated in popularity in the 1980s and has enjoyed a continuous upward surge well into the new millennium. There have been countless diet and exercise trends – from Atkins to South Beach, from Weight Watchers to Jenny Craig to Wii Fit– not to mention gym memberships that enabled Americans to flock to the nearest treadmill and stationary bike to ward off unwanted pounds.
The NBC reality show “The Biggest Loser” pits overweight contestants against each other in a weight-loss contest. The show’s astonishing popularity suggests that most of us are probably interested in keeping fit — or at least watching those who agonize over extra pounds achieve their ideal weight.
The trick is finding the time to work out and the money for professional fitness advice. Has the Internet finally come to the rescue?
Online fitness programs
Aside from walking or jogging regularly (which cost nothing), online fitness programs could be a solution, costing a fraction of what you would usually pay for personal trainers and nutritionists. Programs like FitOrbit or GymAmerica.com, for example, design workout routines and diet regimens specifically designed to suit your needs. Don’t like working out at the gym, or dealing with the crowds at the treadmill? No worries. Online programs allow you the option to work out in the comfort of your own home.
The only drawback to this type of program is that you won’t have face-to-face interaction with your trainer. But you work out at your own pace wherever you like, follow a meal plan designed with you in mind, and — the biggest benefit — you won’t break the bank.
What the statistics say
Online fitness programs have arrived just in time because despite (what appears to be) an obsession with fitness and diet, Americans are actually more obese than ever. This phenomenon has led to First Lady Michelle Obama calling for an end to childhood obesity. A recent report by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation shows that more than two-thirds of U.S. states have obesity rates of 25 percent or higher. Mississippi has the highest obesity rate, and Connecticut and Colorado the lowest.
For decades, health experts have sung the praises of exercise: Not only does it lower your weight, but it also relieves symptoms of stress and improves your sleep. The Department of Health and Human Services even released a report that claims exercise can ward off certain diseases such as heart disease and diabetes, which are commonly associated with weight gain. But maintaining an active lifestyle can chew up a lot of time and, given what personal trainers and nutrition experts charge, also put a serious dent in our wallets.
Fitness done your way
The online trend is gaining momentum every day, as even fitness celebrities like Jillian Michaels and Denise Austin have jumped on the online-fitness bandwagon. In a weak economy where many consumers are concerned about pinching pennies, it’s inevitable that expensive in-person personal-training sessions or costly diet programs will be tougher to afford. Cheaper options are readily available. If our greatest wealth is health, as Virgil once said, then we have to make sure to protect it.