Fat cells under a microscope…

A recent poll of most and least obese states in the United States put Vermont in top ten least obese. We’re the #7 least obese state in the Union. This report also found that in all 50 states, the obesity rates are rising. According to the Vermont Department of Health, the prevalence of obesity among Vermont adults has doubled between 1990 and 2007; and has more than doubled for kids.

This gain in obesity motivated the state to create and implement The Obesity Prevention Plan in 2006. The plan promotes healthy behaviors in Health Care and communities, at work and at school. Topping the list of healthy behaviors: increased physical activity and improved nutrition.

“An overarching premise of the obesity prevention plan is that preventing obesity requires a multidisciplinary, multi–sector partnership of constituents who are committed to working together in a long-term effort. Informed and engaged stakeholders are intrinsic to successful planning and implementation.” (From Fit & Healthy Vermonters: Preventing Obesity in Vermont)

The lay translation of the plan – “You can’t do it alone.” The All Wellness translation is  “Get a fitness buddy.” Companionship is the secret to successful, long term weight loss. Our friends can help keep us on track. Working out in a group:

  • Provides motivation
  • Provides encouragement
  • Provides healthy competition
  • Is more fun
  • Is less painful

This last point seems like a cute addition to the list, but is backed by science. Exercise produces endorphins, the happiness hormones that reduce pain and make us feel a buzz. A recent study reviewed in Medical News Today shows that people have a significantly higher tolerance to pain after exercising in a group than they did after exercising alone, suggesting that their group workouts led to a greater production of feel good endorphins. The study continues:

Not only do these results imply a benefit to exercising with others, they also help to explain why group activities like dancing, laughing and making music make us feel so fantastic. A greater production of endorphins during these activities, suggest the authors, could be a way to help humans to bond in groups and improve social interactions.

Among our new fitness classes this fall, the biggest endorphin boosters are:

  • Pilates Mat Classes
  • Power Pilates
  • Indoor Cycling
  • Zumba

Check them out. Bring a friend.

image credit: www.hsph.harvard.edu