A new study shows that only about 2.7 percent of Americans get enough exercise and practice good healthy lifestyle habits. That means that 97.3 percent of us simply do not do the things that we must do in order to improve our overall health status.
In general, the United States spends more money on healthcare than any other country in the industrialized world. Obesity in the U.S. is epidemic and obesity and obesity-related illnesses result in the expenditure of nearly 150 billion healthcare dollars annually.
There are many things that are known to reduce negative health risks.
What might surprise you is that our behavior – what we’re doing (or not doing) – accounts for 50 percent of our overall health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this is more than our genetics (which account for about 20 percent of our overall health), our environment (20 percent) and our access to medical care (10 percent).
People who are physically active tend to live longer and are at lower risk of heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, depression and some cancers, according to the CDC. Yet fewer than one in four American adults exercises enough to reap those benefits
In the study, the researchers assessed whether or not participants were able to maintain four healthy habits:
• A good diet
• Moderate exercise
• Not smoking
• Keeping body fat under control
While some participants were able to make the grade in one or two areas, less than 3 percent were able to meet all four healthy habits.
Overall, 71 percent of the adults surveyed did not smoke, 38 percent ate a healthy diet, 10 percent had a normal body fat percentage and 46 percent got daily physical activity.
The standards for these habits were not unreasonable—in fact, they were consistent with lifestyle advice most physicians give their patients on a regular basis
In fact, in the study, 16 percent had three of the healthy lifestyle behaviors, 37 percent had two, 34 percent had one and 11 percent had none.
Ways to Improve
The CDC recommends 150 minutes of exercise weekly. Ask your doctor if you are ready for exercise. Talk with a personal trainer or experienced exercise physiologist.
Experts suggest setting small achievable goals such as walking 20 minutes a day three times a week.