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  • Writer's pictureJackie

Want to Prevent Chronic Disease?

Prioritize these 5 Behaviors, says CDC

Are you managing an ongoing health challenge? You're not alone. Chronic health conditions are now a reality of many, many American lives. Current statistics reveal that approximately 60% of adults in the US have at least one chronic disease and four in 10 have two or more. While we cannot magically ward off ALL illness, lifestyle choices play a HUGE role in keeping chronic ones like type 2 diabetes at bay.

In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are five things we can all actively do to significantly lower risk of disease. The “five key health-related behaviors for chronic disease prevention are never smoking, getting regular physical activity, consuming no alcohol or only moderate amounts, maintaining a normal body weight and obtaining daily sufficient sleep.”

Ah, we can always rely on the CDC for an urgent wake up call! Why listen? Their statements stand upon TONS of sound research. In one sentence, the good, old CDC summed up exactly what each of us should pursue if we want to seriously up our chances of staying healthy and living longer. It can feel like an intricate juggling act to keep these five factors from nose diving, but it’s one worth attempting ALL the time.

How many of the CDC’s factors are you keeping afloat? How many are so frustrating you’re constantly tempted to drop them? Here’s a look at each and why they matter.

Never Smoke

Notice the CDC does not say this is okay in moderation. Per its website, cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the US. Did you know that smoking causes 480,000 American deaths a year? That’s nearly ONE IN FIVE DEATHS. Smoking astronomically raises risks for heart disease, stroke, & lung cancer. Nicotine’s addictive properties make it hard to quit smoking, but it IS possible. If you or a loved one want to kick this habit, check out the CDC’s advice on approaches such as counseling, groups, medications, and more.

Get Regular Physical Activity

Okay, this crowd of readers deeply understands the importance of regular exercise. If your routine is waning, though, allow me to remind you of some of the profound health effects you reap when you move your body daily. Per the Mayo Clinic’s summary of well established benefits, you’ll enjoy lowered disease risk and better chances of controlling weight, plus improved mood, sleep, energy levels, and sex life. Remember, too, that while they may sound more “nice than necessary,” all of these latter factors (such as sleep and weight control) play crucial roles in keeping chronic illness at bay.

Consume No Alcohol

(or only in moderation)

According to the National Institutes of Health, in 2019, of the 85,688 liver disease deaths among individuals ages 12 and older, 43.1 percent involved alcohol. In more depth, the NIH site explains, “Research has shown that people who drink excessively have a greater risk of liver disease, heart disease, depression, stroke, and stomach bleeding, as well as cancers of the oral cavity, esophagus, larynx, pharynx, liver, colon, and rectum. These individuals may also have problems managing conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, pain, and sleep disorders.” As we can see, although society tends to view alcohol use as no big deal, the impact on health can be HUGE. Experts recommend drinking only in moderation, if at all—That’s is a max of 1 drink per day for women and 2 per day for men.

Maintain a Normal Bodyweight

For many, many people, keeping weight steady presents a huge challenge. In fact, according to 2018 numbers tracked by the National Center for Health Statistics, an estimated 42.5% of U.S. adults aged 20 and over have obesity, including 9.0% with severe obesity, and another 31.1% are overweight. Even if you manage to maintain a BMI below 25, for most people this means committing to weight management as a lifelong process. As a health oriented person, you probably know the risks of obesity/overweight. But as a brief recap (from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases), remember that these states can lead to type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, metabolic syndrome, fatty liver disease, osteoarthritis, gallbladder disease, kidney disease, some cancers, and potentially mental health problems.

Obtain a Sufficient Amount of Daily Sleep

Who groaned? This factor feels hugely frustrating because sleep is basically an involuntary process. We can’t force it. However, we can nudge it along with sleep promoting habits. (For more tips, check out the SomeBODY Strong posts, Seeking Sleep? 10 Do's & Don'ts" and "Fortify Yourself: Address Fatigue!) Why should we REALLY bother, though? Most succinctly, as summarized by Harvard Medical School’s Division of Sleep Study, research has shown that sleep deprivation lowers life expectancy. It also increases likelihood of obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, mood disorders, lowered immune function, and increased alcohol use.

Yes, these five lifestyle can feel consuming. Even just ONE might. But why are we here, after all? To LIVE. Dare we say, to THRIVE? Well, then consider these tasks to be ongoing homework for that high quality of life we hope to hold onto for a good, long time to come.

Photo by Jonathan Borba from Pexels


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