Health: Is Your Lifestyle Killing You?
By Ken Keis.
Health care is quickly becoming the number one concern in the Western world. People are now looking at the quality of their life as equal to, or more important, than the length of their life. How are you treating your body?
Today our life expectancy is higher than ever; the average lifespan for men and women exceeds 70 years.
As the baby boomers reach retirement age, they are expecting an active lifestyle — not the past stereo-typical “doing nothing” view of retirement. In fact, most want the option of becoming more physically and mentally active than they were during their working career.
Our achievement of longer life has created unanticipated fallout in the economic models on which developed countries operate. Already, several countries are raising their retirement age from the average age of 65. Why? They can’t support their population for the 20 extra years that many of them are going to live.
Those of you who are younger and who will not be financially independent at retirement should expect to work much later. Age 70+ will become the new retirement norm.
Modern society has not only helped us live longer, it has contributed to increasing our stress levels. In a recent survey by Northwestern Life, over 40% of workers reported their jobs to be “very or extremely stressful.” Heart disease and cancer ― two of the primary disease killers in North America ― are more rampant than ever, as are pollution, damaging lifestyle choices, and poor diet.
What do you do about living longer in good health?
Take responsibility for your own health condition. Blaming others will not improve your health and it might increase your stress levels.
Establish your current health condition. Many of us take better care of our automobiles than we do ourselves. When was the last time you had a maintenance check-up? Have an annual physical check-up.
Complete CRG’s Online Stress Indicator and Health Planner (SIHP). It can serve as a useful starting point to assist you in assessing your stress and health practices in five areas.
- Physical Health: Physical, Psychological, and Behavioral Symptoms
- Interpersonal Stress Factors
- Wellness Practices
- Nutritional Practices
- Occupational Stress
One of our clients has been using this assessment every year for over a decade in her organization of 6000 employees. The SIHP helps staff members determine if there has been an improvement in their health condition after implementing certain wellness strategies.
- Think preventative wellness and nutritional balance, not drugs and medicine. Unfortunately, the majority of medical practitioners are trained to treat, not help prevent conditions. Medical training includes very little instruction on the nutritional effects on the human body. My many doctor friends agree that more must be done to include the preventative mindset in the medical community. After my father almost died of a heart attack, the doctors put him on a low-fat, high-carb diet. The results of this approach increased his risk factors. After switching to a low-carb diet, he now is in better shape than he was 20 years ago.
- Set-up a plan that will work for you and your life conditions and preferences. Be realistic.
- Take action. This is one area where just thinking about it will not help us achieve the wellness levels we all want.
Health and safety losses cost billions each year in lost productivity and related expenses, not to mention the intangible personal costs. You have seen on the news where seemingly perfectly fit joggers die while running. Wellness issues apply to more than overweight and inactive individuals.
Environmental stress is global; it does not restrict its effects to certain groups. Our lifestyle choices are contributing to our health and wellness condition.
Health and wellness are your responsibility. After all, you will have to live with yourself for the rest of your life.
- Take responsibility for your health and wellness.
- Determine the ideal health and wellness condition for you. Document the differences between your current lifestyle and your new plan so that you have health goals to shoot for.
- Establish your current health and wellness levels by completing the Online Stress Indicator and Health Planner (SIHP).
- Acknowledge your current condition before embarking on an improvement plan. If I decided to run a marathon next week, you would surely be reading about my untimely demise.
- If you have not done so, have an annual check-up to benchmark your medical condition.
- Be holistic in your wellness plan. Map your improvements in all areas: nutrition, wellness, interpersonal, occupational, and physical.
- Physical activity must be part of your plan. Recent research proves how your overall health and cognitive abilities improve by simply walking 25,000 steps a week.
- Make your plan a challenge. Make it fun. Be creative. If time is an issue, plan activities that combine healthy pursuits with important relationships.
- Nutrition will play a critical part in your long-term success; it must be included in your wellness plan.
- Start from where you are. Now.
Until next time keep “Living on Purpose.”