Recently, the Arizona state government was considering whether to refuse to hire smokers. Smokers are easy to pick on. The evidence against smoking is so obvious, it is just a bad idea. But if we are going to penalize people for participating in modifiable health risk behaviors we have to consider that the Centers for Disease Control identified four such key behaviors: smoking, poor diet, physical inactivity, and excessive alcohol consumption. (1,2) Arguably it is just as bad to be inactive and over weight as it is to smoke.
We need to get as worked up about healthy eating and exercise as we do about smoking. I am regularly amazed by the number of people who are willing to put up with pain, immobility and incredibly inconvenient medical treatment but are resistant to changing a health habit. Marketing wins. (3)
I propose three steps to improving health in America, and it starts with you. Rather than pick on the other guy, let’s take care of our own struggles with those four behaviors.
Commit to daily practice of at least one healthful habit. This is not easy and you may need help with it. There are groups that use the science of addiction to sell you more cigarettes and more food. (3,4) So if it feels like too much, take advantage of the services we offer to help you develop nurturing habits.
Practice the fifth modifiable health factor: good mental health. So, I am made up this name, but there is numerous research articles supporting the idea that happiness and a positive attitude has a measurable and positive effect on health. The fact is, if people took care of their mental health, they would need less medical intervention. (5). Visit with Judy Dirks, MHC, at the clinic, who will teach you some simple ways to feel good, including managing pain. You can also visit http://www.happify.com for some ideas, or http://www.richardmoss.com for a free online course.
The third step: form a CenesGroup. Okay, I made that up, too. Get three our four friends together, and sign up for a free consultation with Judy Simpson or Katie Klute, personal trainers who will help your group form goals to support you make healthy choices together through the year. By joining forces, you will save money and increase your chances of lasting success.
- Eva Martin-Diener, et al. The combined effect on survival of four main behavioural risk factors for non-communicable diseases. Preventive Medicine. Volume 65, August 2014, Pages 148–152 (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0091743514001893)
- Salt Sugar Fat, by Michael Moss, Random House. Feb 2014.