What gets measured gets fixed. That goes in business as it does in most other things. Your health is no different. In the day of tech and information, we get more fed into our brains these days than ever before. By the time we have digested the information, the ticker is already counting down to obsolescence. Because our brains are not the best at acquiring new information like a computer is, humans are now spending more time doing information gathering than before. Human health and wellness, as a result, has declined.
With this kind of break neck acceleration of information and technology permeating our lives, it's no wonder why we are actually having more neck pain and other types of acute and chronic pain than ever before. Today it affects over 100 million people, more than the number of people with diabetes, coronary disease, stroke and cancer combined. Yet, more often than not, we ignore it until there is a real problem. By that time, enough damage has taken place that even with aggressive treatment with physical therapy, pain management, medications, injections and surgery you are often left with a level of impairment and disability that you will never be able to do certain activities.
And yet for all the technological advances that are here and coming (which will surely benefit the humans for generations to come), somehow we are still in an environment where many of us feel that our personal health and healthcare in America is in a state of steady decline. Why has this happened? It is in large part because as humans, we have lost focus on our physical bodies and spent more time leaning on technology to solve our physical problems. This is a recipe for disaster, but there is a solution. Here is a playbook that will help move things along. After all, the only real control any of us have in this life is our own personal health and wellbeing.
A report by Oregon State University finds less than 3% of Americans actually lead a healthy lifestyle. We have a poor diet, lack sufficient exercise, have excess body fat, and some of us still smoke. It's no surprise that this is the case. As stated earlier, our focus has shifted from personal health to just about everything else. Have we all become numb to the fact that we are all actually unhealthy? Has it just become a way of life? If so, that's a sad state of affairs for the United States. Why do we do this to ourselves? Isn't our health more important than just about anything else in the world. Yes, some people might now consider their health the top priority, but for the majority of the population, health is at the forefront of their priorities. Despite the desire and priority of good health, we aren't really achieving it. In 2015, all factors of wellbeing has worsened, except for smoking. So let's break these factors down into their parts and see if we can make sense of it all.
Lets start with the good news. Smoking is on its way out of the lives of Americans. One of the big reasons for the collective cessation has been social pressure. From nearly every angle, smoking is seen as an undesirable habit. After some time, most people determine is not worth engaging in and end up quitting. That took a lot of effort by the government as well, with anti-smoking campaigns, heavy tax levies and other incentives to quit smoking.
Since 1955, there has been a steady decline in the amount of exercise and activity done by the average American. This is mostly due to mechanizations at work, improved transportation methods, less activities at home and increasing sedentary activity. There doesn't seem to be a point at which this trend will change, so being proactive in increasing exercises seems a logical solution. But balancing that with the amount of time available is also crucial. In addition, it has be a plan that can seamlessly integrate into one's daily routine. In other words, getting the gym three to six times a week for a couple of hours probably isn't realistic for the average person.
The pitfalls here are that a person not used to working out will have difficulties finding the right routine for them. Also, health issues can get in the way. So it's a good idea to consult with a physician or medical professional before starting something like this if there are chronic diseases. Then hiring a trainer to guide and motivate, while at the same time, preventing injuries also makes sense. The bottom line is start with a realistic plan and go easy. Incremental gains will keep you motivated and injury free.
This would be the elephant in the room. Let's just there's something very exciting about watching Anthony Bourdain or the many food shows on Netflix. Food is as heavy an addiction as any other addictive substance. It works on our brains and bodies in a very similar way to many drugs that have addictive characteristics. We have also become accustomed to a very high calorie diet, the likes of which this world has never seen before. You can eat anything your heart desires, now almost at any time that you want it. How can you resist?
Obesity and Diabetes are the results of this abundance. Today, the rate of of both of these conditions continues to increase. In addition, hypertension (high blood pressure) and hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol) is adding fuel to the fire. Most of this is a result of progressive changes in diet.
It's very hard to fight the temptation, and many of us go into fad diets or crash diets that work for a few weeks. Then we just relapse and give up. After a while, we just accept that gaining weight is a part of life. Diet, more than exercise, is the reason your weight isn't going down. It's a simple formula of what you put in must be used. If not, it will store it in the form of fats. What helps push this process into overdrive? Sugars, or more specifically, carbs. Studies show that a low glycemic diet has been very effective in keeping weight down and improving overall health. When combined with exercise, it's a winning combination.
In the coming months, more and more tools will become available that will help you to become more acutely aware of your current health status. This will change the way we make decisions about how we treat our bodies. By measuring, we get to create baselines. With baselines, we can plan. With a plan, we achieve better outcomes. With better outcomes, we are able to achieve more for ourselves and with any luck do good for the world.
Today, there are many diet diary trackers and wearables available to help you track and calculate the calories being put into your body. You can even set programs to guide you based on conditions like hypertension, hyperlipidemia, diabetes and obesity. This combined with a realistic plan to help you increase not only your activity, but your awareness of your behaviors will help you to lead a life of good health and longevity. No matter the current state, now more than ever, you must become aware of your personal health. There are plenty of distractions that will vie for your attention, but no one other than you has the responsibility and the most to gain from taking control of your health and life. By changing your own behavior (and spreading the message), you will help to change the current health status of this great country.