The Kane 2040 Plan, the guiding document of the County Board, made very large concessions for the inclusion of health into its planning framework. It is one of the three processes used in the plan, along with transportation and land use. The county wants health to be considered in each new major project in the county. I personally think that healthy citizens uplift the community at large.
When you're feeling fit and healthy, are you gloomy or depressed? Probably not. Exercise increases blood flow to the brain, and helps release endorphins which create calm, happy feelings. Even people who exercise 10-15 minutes a day notice increases in overall mood. However you're feeling, you carry it with you wherever you go. A smile is contagious, but so is a frown. . .
As part of the County Board, I'd like to see an increase in information made available to the public about personal fitness and preventative health behaviors. I also think that alongside such information, we can provide more fitness amenities in our parks and forest preserves, even simple exercise stations which can be made in a way that is aesthetically consistent with the surroundings. Let's make the built environment more interactive physically.
To keep economics from being a barrier to a fit lifestyle, the focus should be put on exercises (beyond walking, running, and biking) that mostly incorporate bodyweight training methods. So much can be done without equipment, and the county should help create and promote things like a "24 Exercises Everyone Should Know" program, and simplified programs for school children.
By exploring the strength, conditioning, and flexibility regimes of physical arts such as ballet, gymnastics, and martial arts, it is possible to provide an easy on-ramp for Kane County residents to get in the best shape of their life! With society changing so rapidly, we now have a situation where there is more access to low-quality food and more opportunities for distractions that keep us sedentary than ever before; but we also have more access to high-quality health and fitness information, too. The time is now to ensure that our communities are staying healthy and fit.
The last thing I'd like to contribute to community health, is the promotion of Tai Chi as a preventative and recovery exercise for people of all ages. Tai Chi has been shown to have numerous benefits across all demographics and conditions. It is great for reducing tension and stress, lowering blood pressure and calming the nerves. At advanced levels it becomes quite an enduring practice, and one can see how it was originally developed for martial artists. Where yoga incorporates meditation and breath awareness into static poses, Tai chi incorporates those elements into moving sequences with multiple body mechanics to be mindful of. Eventually you feel "in the flow." Tai Chi isn't just for old people in parks, it's for young, vibrant people looking to stay centered and strong.
I do also believe that Yoga is highly beneficial for people and basics of Yoga can and should be taught alongside basics of Tai Chi, especially to children. The meditative, healing qualities of Tai Chi are highlighted perhaps more in the closely related art of Qi Gong, which incorporates less body movements and more internal awareness practices to bring about states of calm and well-being. It would not be hard to create a program that could be used by citizens and educators alike, providing Kane County residents with yet another cost-effective health behavior that can prevent a lot of health conditions people are facing these days.
All of this discussion applies for the effort to improve child health through the Making Kane Fit For Kids initiative. It's easier to raise a healthy child than it is to fix a broken adult, as they say, so all the more reason that we should be elevating the quality of fitness behaviors that our children are being imprinted with. By making very simple, yet advanced, fitness habits a part of their everyday life, we are encouraging a future generation to hold physical well-being and fitness to a high standard, and giving them the knowledge and understanding to pass down to their children.
It is time that Kane County become a leader in physical culture and the promotion of accessible health and fitness options in Illinois that are adaptable to citizens of all ages, social/economic backgrounds, and physical ability. Let's get fit together!