Weigh in on weighty issues

Sometimes when I’m at the gym, I look at the woman next to me on the bike, the guy across the way doing bench press, the class behind glass doing Power Yogalates (something like that) and I wonder, “Why are they here? What’s motivating them?”

Maybe that’s because I’m not entirely sure why I’m there. Yeah, it makes be feel good (afterward). Yeah, working out helps make it possible for me to backpack and mountain bike and paddle and a lot of the other things I like to do. And yeah, I know that staying in shape now will help ensure that I can continue to lead an active life later in life. For me, it’s an amalgam of reasons rather than one specific thing.

But what about them? The voyeur in me wants to know. And that voyeur now has an answer. BlueAsksYouNC.com is a new online community where North Carolinians can share their thoughts on health care and wellness issues. The site posses questions, many submitted by folks using the site, you get a chance to offer your two cents.

Quick disclosure: BlueAsksYouNC.com is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina. Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina is also the sponsor of this blog. That said … .

So what motivates them to work out and live a healthier lifestyle? “The desire to look and feel better,” according to 49 percent of the 311 people who had answered that question as of last night. Good answer, say fitness experts: People who workout to look and feel better have the best shot at doing just that. (The second most popular answer, chosen by a quarter of respondents: “Incentives [awards/prizes] or a lower premium from my health insurance.” “Prevent or manage a disease such as heart disease or diabetes” was a close third [21 percent]. A distant fourth: My spouse/partner wants me to.)

Just as insightful were the comments people left. One person had another motivation for working out: “ … KIDS, I want to be around to share in their life and see my family move to the next generation.” A common theme: I’d work out — if I didn’t have to work so much. And there was the philosophical: “‘Look better’ is not what it used to be,” observed one comment. “As our state and nation become more obese, it is becoming easier to look better than it was in the past. ‘Feel better’ is always my measure. Do my pants feel tight? Does my back ache because I’ve lost strength? Am I winded when going up a flight of stairs? I think people should pay more attention to what their bodies are telling them.”

Other questions were equally revealing. 56 percent of respondents said they work out three times a week or more, 56 percent said they “almost never” eat fast food, 97 percent said they would exercise more if their employer gave them a paid hour three times a week to do so.

BCBSNC president and CEO Brad Wilson says he hopes the online community will “spark a two-way conversation. We plan to use Blue Asks You NC to listen and respond, and then use what we learn to become a better company and improve the health care system in our state.”

BlueAsksYouNC.com is open to anyone; you needn’t be insured by BCBSNC. Plus, participants can win stuff, like tickets to sporting events and gift cards to places such as REI..

Ever wonder if you’re alone in thinking that smokers should pay more for health insurance? You’ll find that answer — and other insights from your peers — here.

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