You can be in the TOP 3% of Healthiest Americans!
More than 97% of our population falls short of these 4 basic healthy behaviors.
A recent study conducted by Oregon State University and the University of Mississippi examined how many adults succeed in achieving 4 general behaviors that are the cornerstones of health.
The 4 behaviors are:
A good diet
Moderate exercise (150 minutes of exercise per week)
The recommended body fat percentage for their sex
Being a non-smoker
The study is particularly valuable because of the large group used: 4745 people from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
How were they measured?
The 4 parameters chosen are associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease as well as other health risks such as cancer, stroke, and type-2 diabetes. The participants were measured using accelerometers (a device determining their actual level of movement), blood samples to determine if they were indeed a non-smoker, body fat was measured with sophisticated X-ray absorptiometry, and a healthy diet was defined as being in the top 40% of people who ate foods recommended by the USDA.
How many made the cut?
The dismal results are that only 2.7% of the U.S. adult population achieves all 4 of these basic behavioral metrics that constitute a healthy lifestyle which in turn protects against cardiovascular and other diseases.
Among the study participants, 72% were non-smokers, 38% ate a healthy diet, 47% were moderately active, and 10% had a normal body fat percentage.
“The low percent of adults with normal body fat may be a big contributor to not hitting all four metrics,” the lead researcher Ellen Smit said. Sixteen percent of participants managed to achieve 3 of the 4 metrics, 37% achieved 2 of them, 34% achieved only one. 11% of the participants failed to achieve any healthy characteristics at all.
How to join this “elite” group!
Clean up your diet
Our diets should contain whole, natural foods with a minimum of processed foods, hidden or obvious sugar, and moderate sodium intakes. If you have to prepare your food at home, or don’t have to prepare it at all (i.e. pick up an apple and eat it), you are probably on the right track. Read food labels. A good rule of thumb is this: if there are more than 5 ingredients on the packaging and some are not pronounceable except with a PhD, it’s probably not a healthy choice. For more on detecting and avoiding hidden sugar, trans fats and processed foods, click here.
Eating whole, nutritious foods is easier than you think with some planning. Make enough at dinner so that you have leftovers available to take to work or stock your freezer with some meals that were prepared ahead of time. Staying on track when you get tired and hungry is harder if the pantry and fridge have processed foods that are easy to grab; it’s best to get a fresh start and ditch those temptations. It’s harder to have willpower when you are tired; cleaning up your diet and getting enough sleep go hand in hand.
Arguably this can be the easiest goal to achieve. 150 minutes of exercise per week is the equivalent of 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week. If the word ‘exercise’ makes you cringe evoking visions of P.E Teachers yelling at you to run faster, don’t worry! A 30-minute walk is a great start! Your energy, sleep, and mood will improve. The extra calories burned will help you lose weight and will help with the goal of having the recommended body fat for your sex.
Lower your body-fat percentage to recommended levels
A quick way to check your body fat percentage is to look at your waist-to-hip ratio. Measure the largest part of both your waist and your hips then divide the numbers. For example of your waist is 30 inches and your hips are 38 inches, your waist-to-hip ratio is .83. For men, the ratio should be no more than 0.95 and for women the ratio should be no higher than 0.86.
If your ratio is not in the recommended levels, exercise is even more crucial for you. Abdominal fat, aka visceral fat, is a cardiovascular disease risk factor. Exercises uniquely targets visceral fat even more successfully than dieting alone. Your waist-to-hip ratio will improve in no time!
Quit Smoking. Forever. No mas. Finito.
Quitting means massive health gains, including immediate gains: within 24 hours of your last cigarette your risk for heart attack decreases. 17% of the population still smokes and 90% of lung cancers are smoking related. 30% of all cancer deaths are attributed to smoking. According to the American Cancer Society, smoking kills more Americans than alcohol, car accidents, suicide, AIDS, homicide and illegal drugs combined.
Small changes yield big results.
If you do one thing to start, make it exercise. The domino affect of that one change will affect your body fat percentages, and as you start to feel the positive effects of exercise with improved mood, energy, and sleep (just to name a few) it will be easier to stop smoking and to make healthier food choices. These 4 metrics are interdependent and any positive change will affect many other areas of your health as well. That is a great return on your investment; the most important investment you can make is you!
We are here to help!
Our staff at Pivotal Fitness and Eco Fitness is here for you! Many of our trainers have advanced certifications and trainings in behavior change beyond their primary NCCA accredited certifications. We have been in your shoes and understand the challenges of getting started and the benefit to have professionals around you who have walked the walk. Come in or call today to schedule your free assessment and appointment with one of our trainers. Getting on track sometimes just means a little support to make that lifestyle change that not only sticks, and also becomes something you look forward to every day!