For a stronger America

Hephzibah man is an ideal role model for a healthier lifestyle
"People think I'm unique because of my age," Sam Bryant Jr. said. "I'm doing what I think everyone else should be doing. You take it for granted when you're young. You think you're going to be healthy all your life. You're not."

Someone ought to build a statue honoring Sam Bryant Jr.

It helps that he already resembles one.

At the very least, photos of the 70-year-old Mr. Bryant and his astounding physique should be taped on the refrigerators belonging to anyone who wants to improve his or her health.

You read that correctly – he’s 70.

Staff Writer Tracey McManus profiled “Sonny” Bryant recently in The Augusta Chronicle, telling his remarkable story. An Army veteran who bounced from job to job, Mr. Bryant sought solace in a gymnasium after the break-up of his second marriage in the mid-1980s.

It was then, at age 44, that he began becoming a new man.

Today, at a chiseled 5-foot-10 and 176 pounds, Bryant is a champion bodybuilder. And if anyone gets around to erecting that statue, it should be a monument both to can-do spirit and a relentless commitment to good health.

Mr. Bryant may be an extreme example, but he shows how far the country needs to go to improve its health. It’s a national security issue, really, as health-care costs may bankrupt us.

By one accounting, from Emory University professor Ken Thorpe, obesity adds $700 to the cost of each adult’s health care in this state. In Georgia, he told Atlanta’s WSB-TV, obesity costs the healthcare system about $4.4 billion a year.

If you look at lost work days in relation to productivity, Thorpe said, tack on another $4 billion.

The Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation issue an annual “F as in Fat” report, and this year the findings are slightly more encouraging: U.S. obesity rates have leveled off.

But that doesn’t mean Americans should slack off. Our country still ranks No. 1 worldwide for obesity.

America’s weight problem and its attendant problems – heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure worst among them – are slowing us down.

Let’s speed things up.

Eat less. When you do eat, eat healthier. And keep moving – preferably to a gym, where you can be even more active.

And feel free to use Mr. Bryant as your role model – a man who has shown us how great it can be not just to add years to your life but life to your years.

Age doesn't define 70-year-old bodybuilder

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