Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Health in Hawaii


Every year Hawaii is in the headlines for having a low obesity rate; only Colorado has a slightly lower rate.   Visitors to Hawaii often tell us how great they feel here.  Their aches and pains disappear and they find themselves walking more and feeling energized.   We had the same experience during our visits to Hawaii and it motivated us to come more and more often to recreate the feeling.  We wondered if the health benefits we had during our 3-week vacations would subside if we lived in Hawaii full-time or would keep getting better every year.

In the five years we have lived here we have seen dozens of people with very serious health problems have huge improvements in their health. People who could barely walk were able to take long daily walks after a year or more of living in Hawaii.  We have also had consistent improvement in our health, with slow weight loss and improved fitness.  The changes have not been spectacular or quick, but we have answered the question about whether living in Hawaii full-time would result in our health getting better and better.

We believe the year-round warm weather and access to fresh vegetables, fruits, fish, and meats is a major part of the reason for our improved health.  However, studies have shown the effect of location on health and that you are more likely to be obese if your neighbors are obese.

Communities with lower obesity rates have been shown to have similar physical characteristics including paths and sidewalks,  local parks, and playgrounds. 
A study at Columbia University showed that healthy food outlets nearby and farmer’s markets in the neighborhood also are related to lower obesity. 
Another study found that having four or more businesses like a grocery store, pharmacy, restaurant or other stores within walking distance significantly increased the amount of walking among residents in a neighborhood.  Four-way intersections were also associated with more walking. The age of the neighborhood and availability of parking were not associated with more walking.

We have lived in three communities on Hawaii Island in Hilo, Kona and Kohala and they all have stores within walking distance, nearby beaches and parks, pools, and farmer’s markets.   In each community we watched our neighbors go on daily walks or runs.   They shared the bounty from their gardens and fish they caught with us.

Before we moved to Hawaii, no matter how hard we exercised and restricted our diet, we got fatter and more out of shape every year.  Every year we live in Hawaii, we feel better and are closer to our fitness and weight goals. 



8 comments:

Matt Anderson said...

Interesting post, I couldn't agree more! I think living here (Oahu for me) does make you live a bit more healthy (eating better, fresh air, more exercise, etc).

Of course, I always wonder about stat accuracy in general...if HI has a low rate of obese people I wonder if that is impacted by military people. Meaning, we have a ton of military folks who live here and does the military have more active people in it...could they alone bring the obese rate down? Or is it just because so many who live here are more active/healthy in general.

One thing I have noticed is the (what appears to be anyhow) high rate of people who smoke. Seems to be a very popular hobby among hawaiians and asians from what I see.

city said...

thanks for sharing...

Kate Dunkin said...

Great post! Since I am relocating and looking into Hawaii real estate properties, I always like to keep up with the local news and current events. Thank you for sharing this with us!

Dave said...

People like Hawaii beach rental houses and Wayfarer beach house by owner. Business was always good, because I would give them the personal touch that they wanted. I would make sure that the place was fully stocked with food, and that it was in good repair.


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Ac repair said...

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