Health Hero Tim Butler Takes Healthy Living on the Job to the Next Level
Tim Butler has been working at Intermountain Healthcare and SelectHealth for 41 years. He uses a standing desk and does other things to stay active while at work.
I developed a strong orientation to personal health early in life. This was not a result of family influence. My parents weren’t health oriented at all. They were wonderful parents but were part of the World War II generation that didn’t have the benefit of the widespread health knowledge, awareness, and resources we enjoy today.
I watched both my parents pay a severe price for their unhealthy lifestyles as they grew older. My dad died of a sudden heart attack at age 66. My mom is still alive at age 89—thanks to several million dollars worth of modern medical intervention. She has suffered greatly over the last 25 years, enduring 28 hospitalizations and struggles every day to manage her diabetes, heart disease, and emphysema.
In my case, a deep interest in health started with sports and physical fitness. I wasn’t a particularly great athlete, but like most kids growing up in Minneapolis in the 1950s, I was constantly engaged in a lot of sports; baseball, hockey, and football were my favorites. As a young adult, I gravitated toward road racing and marathons to satisfy my competitive sports urge.
To my good fortune, I was also part of a generation that grew up without any of the digital technology that permeates our lives today. We walked and biked everywhere and with only three TV channels; screen time was kept to a minimum.
Now, having reached senior status, I find myself in an entirely different world. We have succeeded in engineering physical effort almost entirely out of everyday life. Today everything is remote controlled, automated, computerized, digitally on demand, and soon to be available as virtual reality. We all love these electronic conveniences, tools, and entertainments. They are not going away and instead will become increasingly pervasive and essential to functioning productively in the 21st century.
However, there is a downside to all this wonderful technological progress. We still have to traverse life in bodies that are still basically built for the Stone Age.
Tim avoids the elevator and uses the stairs
To survive and thrive, we must get smart and adapt to our new world while acknowledging our primitive biology. This is what physician, athlete, and philosopher George Sheehan meant when he urged us to “first be a good animal.”
Your physical body is the vehicle you need to experience life’s adventure. Whatever you would most like to experience and achieve in life will have to be done from the platform of the body you inhabit. President John F. Kennedy, who established the President’s Council on Physical Fitness in 1961, understood this when he said, “Physical fitness is the basis for all other forms of excellence. …Intelligence and skill can only function at the peak of their capacity when the body is healthy and strong.”
American society has spent the last 50 years running an experiment to test the effects of ignoring our fundamental human health needs while living increasingly sedentary lives, eating lots of highly processed foods, packing on excess weight, and ignoring good sleep habits.
The results are compelling: Parallel epidemics of obesity and Type 2 diabetes (among both adults and children), an increasing burden of chronic disease, declining levels of physical fitness among all age groups, and relentlessly rising unsustainable healthcare costs.
Decades of research show that no amount of money we can spend on treatment-oriented medicine can protect us from or make up for the damage done by unhealthy lifestyle habits. Nor can our best interventional medicine give us the energy, vitality, and longevity that we know how to achieve through good health practices.
Tim is often seen walking in the park, alone or with colleagues, to stay active during his workday
Having run the experiment and seen the results, the question now is how we will respond both individually and collectively. As an organization, we have made a huge commitment to changing the nature of healthcare. I consider myself most fortunate to work with SelectHealth and Intermountain Healthcare as we take on the challenge of helping people live the healthiest lives possible.
On a personal level, I am grateful for the LiVe Well program from Intermountain Healthcare and SelectHealth. LiVe Well makes it easy and fun to continue my pursuit of good health. I am especially appreciative and will continue to take advantage of all the things SelectHealth has done to create a culture of health for all our employees. These include:
- Stand-up desks
- Clean, well-lit, and attractive stairways
- Fresh fruit in the breakroom every Wednesday
- Convenient access to a lovely park for movement breaks and walking meetings
- Onsite fitness center and professional staff
- Subsidized on-site massages
The good news is we can have our high-tech life and still find ways to be active, eat healthy, and function at a high energy level.
I think my grandmother Zeta got it right when she told me more than 40 years ago: “Take good care of yourself. You're the only one who can.”
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