Staying fit after 50 has a lot to do about exercise, fitness and food. There are some causes, however, that aren’t helping you trim your waistline or lose those last few pounds. What do economics have to do with health? It turns out, that any dips in our economy can lead to a rise in our weight according to a study done by John Hopkins. Researchers found that from 2008 to 2012—the period known as the great recession—weight gain was strongly correlated with the rise in unemployment, increasing the risk of obesity by 21 percent. This makes a lot of sense considering those luxuries like health food and gym memberships, are the first to go. Not to mention the loss of health insurance that often accompanies a job loss.
Fortunately there are many low-cost or free ways to protect your health—and an investment in you is the best one you can make.
There’s a reason that Colorado is the both the slimmest and the steepest state in the nation. The altitude at which you live is strongly correlated with your weight, with each gain in altitude corresponding with a drop in weight, according to a study done by the U.S. Air Force.
The effects of environmental pollutants go far beyond wheezing and sneezing. Rats exposed to highly polluted air were not only much more likely to become obese, according to a study done by Duke University, but also had a greater risk of heart disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. And it’s not just limited to rodents. People who live close to roadways with a high level of air pollution are also more likely to gain weight, says a study from the University of Southern California.
Our cozy homes and offices might be partly to blame for expanding waistlines, say researchers in a study published in the journal Cell. The scientists found that regular exposure to mildly cold weather—as would have been normal in the days before programmable thermostats—helps the human body regulate a healthy weight. The chilly air seems to increase metabolism by making the body work harder to cope with the changing conditions. Some proponents of “cold therapy” take daily ice baths or “shiver walks” but you don’t have to be that extreme to see results, say the researchers. Just lowering your thermostat by a few degrees or turning the shower briefly to cold can help.
Antibiotics have saved countless lives. But those infection-fighting drugs may have unintended consequences. The more antibiotics a person takes during their lifetime, particularly during early childhood, the greater their risk of becoming obese, according to an NYU study. Researchers speculate that it has to do with killing healthy gut bacteria, decimating your microbiome along with the bad bugs, as good bacteria has been shown to help prevent weight gain.
So what do we do? According to research done by the American Diabetes Association. Being able to see, and more importantly walk to, greenery encouraged people to exercise more and made it feel less like exercise. Parks make physical exertion feel like fun but even if you’re not using them to exercise, simply being in the presence of nature has been shown to reduce stress, lower weight and improve your health overall. Get out into mother nature and explor!