Begin a healthy lifestyle this September

Of course, everyone wants to be healthy in old age. We want to stay vibrant and active. And young!
And the aging experts have told us what it takes to reach that goal—eat lots of veggies and fruits, exercise regularly, and keep our brains alive and active.
So, do we do it? Apparently not!
According to a recent Michigan State University study, only three percent of Americans follow all four common healthy behaviours that contribute to a healthy lifestyle—not smoking, eating well, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight.
Only three percent!
Lead researcher Dr. Mathew J. Reeves said he expected that only a minority of adults would keep up all four habits. “But three percent was really quite surprising,” he commented.
The three percent statistic isn’t quite as bad it seems on the surface. Researchers found 76 percent didn’t smoke and 40 percent had maintained a healthy weight.
But, unfortunately, they found only 23 percent ate at least five fruits and vegetables daily, and only 22 percent exercised on a regular basis (regular exercise was defined as at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least five times a week).
Still, it seems quite amazing that only three percent of adults maintained all four of these habits that characterize a healthy lifestyle.
The question is: Why don’t the other 97 percent of us follow the rules of healthy aging? Why do we risk our health?
Dr. Reeves theorized that people are busy and follow the crowd when it comes to driving everywhere instead of walking or biking. And many may lack information about the dangers of unhealthy habits.
But probably the biggest reason is the “cultural norm” we live by. If most of your friends eat fast food and don’t exercise, it’s hard to change your lifestyle.
Even though changing may cut your risk of heart disease, add years to your life, cut medical expenses, and improve quality of life in your later years.
No wonder a recent headline trumpeted, “U.S. Lags Behind 41 Nations in Life Span.”
The Aug. 12 article began this way: “Americans are living longer than ever, but not as long as people in 41 other countries.” Now we know why. It is our poor lifestyle choices.
So if you are one of the 97 percent that haven’t made the wisest choices, why not change right now?
The last week of this month is “Active Aging Week,” sponsored by the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA).
“Active aging means living life as fully as possible,” suggests an ICAA report. “How well we age has much more to do with how well we function, and a lot less to do with the years.
“And we all function better when we take a walk, visit friends and family . . . and sing and dance.”
So if you want to feel better, have more energy, and stay mobile, why not join the three percent now? Commit to not smoking, eating well, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight.
By the end of September, you’ll have plenty of energy to celebrate Active Aging Week!
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at thisside60@aol.com or visit www.visit-snider.com

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