I'm about to throw my weight behind the only health care reform measure that makes sense in the long run.
Against my more sedentary instincts, I'm taking part in the iWALK challenge — Sonoma County's program to encourage people like me to get out from behind their computers and move their behinds.
And I invite you to join me, starting Monday at noon. We'll be meeting on the sidewalk in front of our building here at 427 Mendocino Ave. for an hour-long (30 minutes each way) walk through downtown Santa Rosa and along the Prince Memorial Greenway.
If you miss us, we'll be out there again next week and every Monday, rain or shine, through the end of the campaign on May 15.
If you're a fast walker, you may be disappointed.
Call this the iPLOD campaign.
Editorial Writer Jim Sweeney will be joining us. So is Columnist Chris Smith, he of pink tutu fame. (Yes, that's him in that iWALK poster. He's my inspiration for exercise if not day wear.) Santa Rosa City Council member Jane Bender and possibly a few other community leaders will be there as well.
Why? Well, we all know the reason why.
We need it. I need it.
As an editorial writer, I often write about America's girth problem but set a poor example. Some days the closest thing I get to exercise is reading a Bob Padecky column. (Did I mention that Padecky may be joining us as well? Another colorful figure, whether in a tutu or not.)
The fact is, it's time to walk the talk.
Here's the talk: Back when Bill Clinton was getting razzed for his penchant for McDonald's, 25 percent of adults in America were considered overweight or obese. Now, nearly two out of three of us fall in that category. And given the stress that many are under these days, I doubt those numbers are improving.
Raise your hand if you're finding it easier to get out and work out? But we don't have a choice.
The American Heart Association reported in January on the dangers of prolonged sitting — either at a computer or in front of a TV. The study found that each hour, on average, spent in front of the television daily was associated with an 11 percent increased risk of death from all causes — and an 18 percent increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
This inactivity is more than an American problem. It's become our national pastime. Our most chronic disease is our idolatry of idleness.
And it's one of the main causes of the nation's increased health care costs. U.S. medical costs associated with excessive weight were around $78 billion a year in 1998. Now it's closer to $150 billion.
Overall, America spends $2.5 trillion on its health care. That's equal to more than $8,100 per person, more than any other nation in the world. We spend plenty of money on our health. What we need to spend is time.
It's a national crisis. But the only stimulus that's going to address this problem is the kind that occurs in the cerebral cortex.
No government program, pill, diet, inspirational talk or column is going to fix this for us. We're on our own to make a move.