Responsively Yours: A Healthy Meeting Challenge
United Methodist Women is committed to identifying issues, holding them in prayer and taking action, so when I read the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration's 2010 report on women's health, I immediately began to think about what we could do. The report, based on a wide-ranging analysis of data from a variety of studies of U.S. women of all ages, shows health disparities by race, educational attainment and income level. Unfortunately, these are conclusions are familiar to United Methodist Women and are part of our analysis as we serve and advocate for marginalized persons.
However, I was also struck by a cluster of findings that is true for all of us:
- Women do not get adequate amounts of calcium or folate.
- Few do 2.5 hours of moderate exercise every week.
- Obesity affects many of us.
- Risks from falling in advanced years is very pronounced.
Fortunately or unfortunately, these are not findings that send most of us to the doctor for a prescription. Of course, some of the people who are included in these numbers have other health conditions that affect what they can eat or the exercise that is appropriate for them, and some of the women who are injured by falls may have medical conditions that caused the falls. Some of us have genetic factors that predispose us for "weak bones" even with adequate calcium and exercise, but for the rest of us, these results speak about lifestyle choices and our daily patterns.
We looked at some of those choices and patterns, and how what we eat speaks to others of our hospitality in our 2009 Food & Faith mission study. But what do we take from this sort of report?
What sort of foods would we offer at United Methodist Women luncheons, dinners or meetings if we had the current state of women's health in mind when we planned these events? What sorts of activities would we include in our gatherings if we had these findings in mind when we scheduled our meeting time? What if participating in the Reading Program included "reading" an audio book while walking 30 minutes every day? Can you imagine a United Methodist Women meeting with members using canned goods brought for the food drive in a few resistance exercises before boxing them up for delivery? Perhaps some of us could intentionally park farther from the meeting site so that we could get our walking "steps" in for the day.
Often United Methodist Women members working to manage their weight and exercise must "save" calories so they can eat at our meetings while hoping the event is over before dark so they can take an afternoon walk. Wholesome, holy and healthy — isn't that the sort of organization that we want to be?
Harriett Jane Olson
Deputy General Secretary