While I am not a frequent player of big N.C. Lottery games like Powerball and MegaMillion, I have to admit I am fond of scratch-off tickets. Frequently, if I have a dollar or two in my pocket, I will grab a couple and try my luck. Most times I either don’t win or win just enough to cover the cost of the original ticket. On that off chance that I may someday hit it big, I plan to keep on scratching.
The one thing I will never gamble on, however, is my health. My yearly scratch-off investment is just a drop in the bucket compared with how much Americans spend on being unhealthy. The United States spends more on health care than any other nation. Despite news reports, magazine articles and testimony from experts, most Americans are gambling with their health by making unwise choices in their lifestyles. Let’s look at some sobering statistics courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control:
— Only 36 percent of men and 21 percent of women get at least 30 minutes of cardio exercise per week.
— One third of Americans suffer from high blood pressure.
— There are 14.7 million Americans who suffer with diabetes.
— Sixty-five percent of adults and 50 percent of children are overweight.
The crazy thing about it is that all of these things are within our control. Seventy percent of all chronic diseases are attributed to lifestyle. So why don’t we do a better job?
Here’s a clue — we move less, eat more and stress too much. There is so much misinformation in television commercials it is hard to make a solid decision on eating. All this combined with being a technologically-based society makes us just get unhealthier each decade.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel if we make an effort to change our lifestyle habits a little at a time. It is never too late to rewind and get your health on track. Positive changes made at any time in your life can decrease the chance of developing chronic health problems. For example, did you know?
— Regular exercise can add up to 3.7 years to your life.
— Having a normal blood pressure can add 3.7 years.
— Avoiding diabetes can add 6.6 years.
— Maintaining a normal body weight can add a whopping 11 years to your lifespan.
Wow, all those extra years just for exercising, eating right and managing my weight — count me in. The great thing about living this healthy lifestyle is that these added years will be productive years. I want to be able to play golf and P90X as long as possible. Keep in mind that we only get one body for this trip called life. Take control of your health and save your gambling for the lottery, the casino or the Super Bowl — hopefully by putting your money on the Cincinnati Bengals.
Kathy Hansen has more than 20 years of experience in the health and fitness field. She can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org