Healthy living makes for a healthier community

Published 8:46 am Monday, September 11, 2017

Grow Carter County has received a $5,000 grant from the Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness to help Carter County become a healthier community.
Grow Carter County is not just another organization, but it is an initiative aimed at making Carter County a healthier community by promoting physical activity, healthy eating, and tobacco abstinence. In Tennessee, one in five adults smoke, and one in five high school students use tobacco. Approximately 34 percent of the population is classified as obese and an additional 34 percent are overweight. Type-2 diabetes and high blood pressure are at epidemic levels. The state-wide statistics are simply a mirror of Carter County, and the need to get better at living healthy.
A healthier community means healthier children and adults and a healthier workforce. Good health is not just a matter of access to medical care — though prevention and treatment are assuredly factors in good health — but also a function of the broader environment that affects individuals.
There is strong evidence that healthy communities and economically vibrant communities are often one and the same.
Ultimately, some local governments may shy away from involvement in conducting health assessments or health planning because they already have enough issues on the table or fear political pushback, but smart cities and counties are on the bandwagon.
Headway is being made in Elizabethton and Carter County toward making our communities healthier. We already have some of the best hiking trails in the country, as well as the Tweetsie Trail, a popular biking trail as well as a safe place to run and walk. We have parks that are family oriented, as well as rivers for rafting and kayaking. There are many fun reasons to get outside in the Elizabethton community.
This summer, the community has had two vibrant and growing farmers markets — one in Roan Mountain and one in downtown Elizabethton.
However, there are some things we can work on such as getting school children away from their computers and televisions outside after school hours. Making healthy snacks accessible at home, at school, and in the workplace is a must.
Healthy living can make a difference. It is well known that the origins of many illnesses, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and most cancers, significantly connect to lifestyle choices about food, activity level, environmental risks, habits and behaviors. But persuading someone to make a lifestyle change is especially hard when the person still feels healthy enough and the deleterious effects of poor choices aren’t yet obvious. To borrow a line from Shakespeare, “Aye, there’s the rub.” That individual might smile and nod, yet remain unconvinced that there’s any compelling reason to change.
However, the question shouldn’t be whether or not the poor lifestyle choices will produce disease — it’s a matter of when.
We have to start asking deeper questions about the health effects of our food choices, including the myriad of additives you can’t identify or pronounce beyond the salt, sugar, and fat content. Then there’s the matter of exercise. Simply choosing to stand more than sit and to move more than remain sedentary confers health benefits.
We must make healthy living a continuous, conscious journey, not just a future destination.
We are happy to see we have a group of individuals in our community who want to make healthy living a priority. Go Grow Carter County!

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