November 28, 2014

From the Editor

For those who want to look better and feel better-and who doesn't?-this month's "Health and Fitness" issue offers plenty in the way of inspiration. On the other hand, it also offers plenty in the way of exasperation. In "Fit Past 40" (page 50) senior editor Daniel Lindley profiles four Southwest Floridians who have found the secret for warding off the ravages of age and waistline. And in "Summer Essentials" (page 56) we share the latest in swimwear fashion.

In other words: Abandon love handles all ye who enter. Reading this issue could be dangerous to your self-esteem. The following pages are chockful of great-looking people who have lots less body fat than you or I.

OK, so maybe it's not fair for me to make broad (no pun intended) assumptions about your current state of porkiness. I can only rely on statistics. According to the federal government, above 62 percent of Floridians are significantly overweight and more than 20 percent are clinically obese.

We can take some solace in the fact that, according to another survey, this one in the January issue of Men's Fitness, Florida wasn't represented in the list of "Ten Fattest Cities." (Houston was number one.) But neither did it carve out a spot in the "Ten Fittest Cities," in which Colorado Springs claimed top honors.

But lest we get too smug about falling somewhere in the middle of the hefty heap, an ongoing study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would seem to theorize that Southwest Florida's rapid growth has more to do with its residents being overweight than does mere caloric intake. That's right. If your waistline is expanding and your thighs are jiggling, blame it not on burgers and fries but on a community where the homes are new, the shopping malls abundant and people spend too much time in their cars fighting traffic.

According to the study, most adults consume only about 100 calories a day more than they did 20 years ago, while the amount of fat in diets has dropped considerably, from 42 percent to 34 percent. The problem: Despite burgeoning health club memberships and exercise outlets, most communities that have seen unparalleled growth in the last two decades-and that's us-promote a sedentary lifestyle by their very design. It's not so much whether you pursue an active lifestyle as it is whether your daily routines promote a high degree of activity. And too many daily routines are largely a matter of walking from our gorgeous homes to the three-car garage and then hitting the highway . so that we can drive to the golf course, the health club or the beach.

The centers' researchers found that people who live in pre-1950 neighborhoods tend to be the healthiest.

"That's mainly because such neighborhoods were built closer to grocery stores and business districts, and people tended to go it on foot rather than get in their cars," said one of the researchers.

The message is clear: Move to an old house, throw away the car keys and pig out. Funny, none of those fitness gurus we interviewed mentioned that.