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  • Writer's pictureTribes Team

Health Club Innovation for our Future

By Shania Babbitt

Many believe exercise has many vital benefits on our overall health. What do you think? We already know that exercise helps promote a healthy lifestyle thus improving ones mental and physical wellbeing. It is shown in research that exercising daily also can expand your life by a significant number of years. Our bodies are made to eat healthier choices of food, not junk food. Junk food creates these trans fats, sugars and unhealthy carbohydrates that stay in our bodies for months even years! It stays

longer if you do not take the time to exercise. Not exercising overtime creates a domino effect of a negative lifestyle. You can gain weight which can cause mental health problems such as depression anxiety or even body dysmorphia, or you are more susceptible to get sick by others easier because you are not taking care of yourself. Sickness such as diabetes and not exercising go hand in hand. In order to get better you must "be better", by that we mean take the time to care for your physical and mental and even spiritual wellbeing. With that said many Native Americans are overweight and are currently getting sick from the many prevalent viruses due to not having strong immune systems.

Regular exercise reduces the risk of catching covid by11% and reduces potential risk of serious disease by 44%. Exercisers have a 36% reduced chance of being admitted to the hospital and a striking 43% lower risk of death from covid.

Another study shows that older fit humans have hearts, lungs and muscles of those 30 years younger and lengthened lifespan by an extra 9 years compared to those with sedentary lifestyles.

One of the main challenges in most tribal nations is the lack of physical fitness facilities such as access to quality gyms or not making time to do any physical activity. There is also a lack of private sector investment into health gyms that are making a massive difference in off-reservation communities. You can go into any major city and find a 24 hour fitness center but when you go onto the reservation theres either none or one that doesn't stay open very long.

The challenge is the need for incentives from the tribal government and communities to attract local or outside health oriented business owners to invest. The governments can only do so much. Such policies are critical with the quadruple pandemics of covid, obesity and health crisis, lack of healthy food options, and lack of quality exercise facilities and safe trails/parks.

Bigger cities such as Flagstaff or Phoenix focus on providing the most innovative services when it comes to physical fitness, largely driven by the private sector. Its common to see 24 hour fitness centers with low monthly membership rates. These health clubs are able to offer many kinds of enticing options such as state of the art weight machines, cardiovascular equipment, classes to learn about physical wellbeing, swimming pools and saunas. Many of these fitness centers all offer hand sanitizer and disinfectant dispensers throughout their facilities. There are even disinfectant mops available for use on mats and sanitizing wipes for weight machines.

To create such a shift in our communities will require innovation across the board. Our Nation and our community governments need to create more incentives for more private entrepreneur to actually get a fitness business up and running on the Navajo Nation. It will take financial incentives, investment support, business technical support, and long term mentoring. Bulk purchase of state of the art equipment will require a larger cooperative type structure to enable lower cost purchasing passed on to the business owner.

With the comprehensive, focused development of a health initiative, so much can improve in the health of our people and communities. This is but one piece of the health puzzle. There needs to be initiatives for bringing back healthy traditional foods, sharing of plant based foods, improvements of the mind through prayer and mediation, and many other tools taught by our cultures. TribeAwaken works to highlight these tools for better life.

Ahxehee (thankyou)!

Below are a couple of articles used as reference for this article:

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