The United Health Foundation released a study, which lists Oklahoma as the 43rd healthiest state in the nation in 2017, up from 46th in 2016. This is the best the state has ranked since 2004, when Oklahoma was the 42nd healthiest.
Oklahoma’s strengths include a high number of mental health providers, ranking fifth in the country. Additionally, Oklahoma’s excessive drinking rate is low, ranking second at 12.8 percent.
Senior Colin McCaskill, who is part of Oklahoma Christian University’s nutrition and exercise science program launched last fall, said he has taken a variety of science-based classes. He said the first couple of years of the program include classes in physiology, anatomy, chemistry and biology. The program also offers courses in exercise physiology, nutrient metabolism and nutrition, which focused on how exercise, food and nutrients affect the body.
Oklahoma is ranked 42nd in adult obesity at 32.8 percent, which decreased from 33.9 percent in 2016. The State of Obesity said Oklahoma had the ninth highest adult obesity rate in Aug. 2017. The state’s percentage of adults who reported doing no physical activity or exercise other than their regular job in the past 30 days is 28.5 percent, down from 33.2 percent in 2016.
According to McCaskill, physical exercise is an important part of becoming healthy, because it boosts metabolism and increases the number of calories burned in a day.
“One of the keys to losing weight is understanding how your body works,” McCaskill said. “A healthy diet paired with exercise is the most effective way to lose weight because it supplies your body with the appropriate amount of protein, carbs and fats needed for your body to work.”
McCaskill said the biggest reason people refrain from improving their health is because a healthy diet and proper exercise is time consuming and takes a lot of hard work. He said if an individual does not put in an appropriate amount of time or effort, it can be easy to stop doing.
County Health Rankings and Roadmaps ranked the 77 counties of Oklahoma from least healthy to healthiest. Edmond, OK is in Oklahoma County, which ranked 23. In Oklahoma County, 31 percent of the population is obese, 26 percent are physically inactive and 93 percent have adequate access to locations for exercise opportunities.
Sophomore Bayele Gibbs, also a nutrition and exercise science major, is enrolled in nutrition and intro to exercise science this semester. She said she plans to become a registered dietitian. Originally from Texas, Gibbs said she has not noticed a large difference between the healthiness or unhealthiness of the states.
“As far as Oklahoma Christian goes, we really push and support the physical activity programs like intramural sports, yoga and the classes the Dub offers,” Gibbs said. “Eating healthy is only part of the process. Exercise is the second part and it is just as important.”
Gibbs said she agrees people often become discouraged when pursuing a healthier lifestyle, and find dieting and physical activity hard to control.
“A busy lifestyle, time and very high goals that are set, that can’t be reached right away, all factor into it,” Gibbs said.