(DGIwire) – Ever wonder why we have so many health challenges and healthcare is so expensive?
The answer seems so simple. Eat a healthy diet, exercise moderately, maintain a normal body composition and not smoking are all it takes. Following these suggestions is associated with lower cardiovascular risk, cancer, type 2 diabetes and many other health problems.
The bar is not set very high with just four simple guidelines; yet only 2.7 percent of American adults meet all four basic behavioral characteristics of a healthy lifestyle according to researchers from Oregon State University and the University of Mississippi.
Perhaps even these four basic behavioral characteristics are too much to expect people to follow? Let’s take a look at each.
Eating a healthy diet was defined as being in the top 40 percent of people who followed a diet recommended by the USDA. It should be noted that most health experts agree that the USDA guidelines are a minimum at best. Even so, 62 percent don’t meet the guideline.
Exercise was defined as 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activities a week. A person could meet this one with just a 20-minute brisk daily walk. 54 percent of adults do not even get close.
Normal recommended body fat percentages range from 8-24 percent for men and 21-35 percent for women depending on age. The older a person is, the higher the normal range. This leaves plenty of room, as there is no real reason, other than eating poorly and being sedentary, for body fat to increase as we age. Even though there are strong health risk correlations, 90 percent of adults are too fat.
Not smoking is self-explanatory and includes any kind of smoking. At this point in time, no one can honestly believe that smoking is harmless. Despite this knowledge, 29 percent of adults still smoke.
In general, adults over 60 years old ate healthier and were less likely to smoke but were not active enough and more overweight.
“Considering that the majority of adults in America have one or more health challenges, this study is pretty scary. There is no longer any doubt that following these four simple recommendations can greatly improve a persons health. People need to understand that many, if not most, of their health problems are self-inflicted and cannot be fixed by a prescription from their doctor. Without making lifestyle changes, the underlying problem is not fixed. It is just temporarily hidden,” according to Tom Griesel, co-author of TurboCharged: Accelerate Your Fat Burning Metabolism, Get Lean Fast and Leave Diet and Exercise Rules in the Dust.
As expected, the researchers did find that more health benefits were experienced as more guidelines were followed. Following even one guideline was better than none and health improvements increased with each additional guideline followed.
Griesel adds, “If there was no health insurance coverage and no drugs to take away warning signals, people would most likely try harder to take care of themselves. We need better personal health education. If people really knew how much their lifestyle decisions determine their health and how little real help they get from medications, perhaps these numbers would change.”