70% of annual deaths in the United States are due to chronic disease. Heart disease and diabetes alone killed over 740,000 Americans in 2019.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. You aren’t destined to die of a heart attack no matter what. Yes, you may be genetically predisposed to heart disease–my own grandfather had nine heart attacks–but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can and should do to fight back.
Specifically, the best tool in our toolboxes to fight the scourge of chronic disease are constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity in conjunction with a diet of meat and vegetables, seeds and nuts, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar.
That’s right…CrossFit and good nutrition can largely give you a pass on chronic disease.
The other 30% of annual American deaths each year are caused by things we largely have no control over: accidents, environmental toxins, genetic disorders, and microbic abnormalities.
So 7 out of 10 Americans die of things we can go a long way toward preventing, the other 3 out of 10 die due to bad luck. So as you can see, fitness plus (bad) luck equals health.
In 2002 CrossFit observed that nearly all important health parameters lie on a continuum ranging from sick on one end to fitness on the other and wellness in the middle. Cholesterol, body fat, blood pressure, bone density, muscle mass, etc., can all be plotted on this continuum.
The fittest people should have all their health and fitness markers toward one end of the curve and the sickest people will have their markers at the other end of the curve, with the majority of the population somewhere in the middle. Genetic differences aside, people do not just magically end up on this curve.
This curve, our fitness and health, is a direct result of lifestyle choices. The sickest tend to not only suffer from over-consumption of refined and processed foods but also tend to be more sedentary. The fittest tend to eat better and move more and make other choices that positively affect their health and fitness.
By taking basic steps with your nutrition and training habits, you can move away from sickness; and the farther you are from sickness on the continuum, the harder it will be to get to sickness. Building your fitness builds hedges against sickness.
A body fat of 35% or higher is closer to sick than well. If you have a body fat of 15%, it is going to take a lot to get to the 35%, so you have created a 20% hedge against sickness. If you are near the “Fitness” side of the continuum, in order to shift to “Sickness” you must first pass through “Wellness.” If you are near “Wellness,” there is no hedge to “Sickness.”
Seventy percent of what kills people can be helped by what we do in CrossFit, and the rest happen based on luck. Focusing on increasing your fitness by coming to CrossFit, eating well, and getting good sleep. Do those things and you’ve done all you can do to ensure your own longevity. After that, we’re out of stuff that matters.
About the Author
Edward Getterman is a Certified CrossFit Trainer (CF-L3) and the owner of Twin Bridges CrossFit in Waco, Texas. If he can’t be at the gym or at home, he’d prefer to be at Walt Disney World. He loves deadlifts, hates running, and believes above all else that CrossFit is for everyone.