Data from the federal government reflected that Americans spent over $3.65 trillion on health care in 2018. That’s a staggering figure, to say the least…and here’s another one:
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) report that 75% of all US healthcare spending is in response to chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
These two data points alone go to show not only how preventive health behaviors might benefit our overall wellness, but that they could unlock billions in reduced healthcare spending as well.
Seniors, in particular, have long been more predisposed than the general population to engage in preventive health habits, which are thought to help them live longer and enjoy a better quality of life. And for others, it’s seldom too late to start making better health-related choices.
Either way, though, understanding where to start and which facets of life to emphasize chronic disease prevention and better overall health is important, so we’ve compiled a shortlist. What follows are five distinct health behaviors that can reduce the risk of chronic diseases (heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes) and should form a foundation for Americans’ preventive health habits.
No real surprise here. And although smoking is mentioned specifically, the guidance actually includes avoiding all nicotine and tobacco products, which are proven to increase risks for virtually all the major chronic diseases, and others.
Physical activity is naturally good for the body, and as we alluded to recently, it can help preserve and protect mental health as well. The US Surgeon General recommends two-and-a-half hours of moderate-intensity exercise per week for adults, and one hour a day for children and adolescents.
Seniors, for example, might aim for 30 minutes of exercise per day, five days per week, and with senior-specific wellness programs like FitCampSM, which has been engineered by Discovery Senior Living, exercise is becoming more personalized and accessible for thousands of resident seniors.
AVOIDING ALCOHOL OR DRINKING IN MODERATION
Like smoking and tobacco products, excessive alcohol consumption has been linked to a number of chronic diseases and health-related concerns. But then again, there are studies that suggest certain preventive health benefits, like the popular idea that an occasional (or even daily) glass of wine provides antioxidants and can guard against heart disease. So which is it?
Generally speaking, drinking in moderation is acceptable as preventive health behavior, with “moderation” being the keyword. Men should limit alcohol consumption to two drinks a day, while women should stick to just one.
MAINTAINING A HEALTHY BODY WEIGHT
Although “Eating a Healthy Diet” isn’t specifically one of the five preventive health measures, it’s certainly implied with this call to maintain a healthy weight. Seniors (and adults in general) are urged to work in partnership with a doctor or dietary specialist to measure and monitor body mass index (BMI), which is largely used to determine whether their weight can be considered in the “healthy range” given their height and perhaps other factors.
GETTING SUFFICIENT SLEEP
Studies have shown that Americans are becoming increasingly used to functioning on less than the recommended amount of sleep. The National Sleep Foundation, however, recommends 7-9 hours of sleep per night for adults and some seniors (those ages 26-64), and 7-8 hours for seniors 65 and older.
Read more about exclusive lifestyle programs like Sensations Dining, Dimensions Wellness, and others developed by Discovery Senior Living to promote healthier lifestyle choices and disease prevention.