Studies show 80 percent or more of premature chronic conditions, such as heart attack, stroke or diabetes, are caused by modifiable lifestyle choices, as opposed to being caused by genetic factors. Yet many Americans don’t understand the connection between lifestyle choices and chronic health conditions. A recent UnitedHealthcare survey found that just 16 percent of Americans correctly recognized that 80 percent or more of premature chronic conditions are caused by modifiable lifestyle choices, such as smoking or obesity, not genetics.
To help make fitness a priority this summer, here are tips to consider:
Walk This Way: Studies have shown walking more and sitting less may help people maintain a healthier weight, ward off depression and prevent serious health issues like heart disease. And a recent report concluded that walking can help curb sweet cravings, boost the immune system and ease joint pain. To make walking more effective, think FIT, which stands for frequency (500 steps within seven minutes six times per day), intensity (3,000 steps within 30 minutes each day) and tenacity (at least 10,000 total steps per day).
Get Outside (Safely): The popularity of smartphones and streaming TV has made it easy — and entertaining — to stay inside. In fact, recent research has found that some people spend 90 percent of their time indoors, limiting exposure to daylight and fresh air. This can have negative consequences, including for children and their eye health. Studies have found that exposure to outdoor light may help reduce the risk of nearsightedness. To gain the potential benefits of being outdoors while helping stay safe, children and adults should wear sunglasses that block both UV rays and blue light, as well as apply sunscreen to help reduce the risk of skin cancer.
Maintain Your Hearing Health: Summer is a popular time for sporting events and music concerts, which can lead to exposure to loud sounds. Crowd noise at sporting events can exceed 90 decibels, while music concerts can reach 110 decibels. Prolonged exposure to sounds above 85 decibels can contribute to gradual hearing loss, so it is a good idea to use ear protection when seeing your favorite team or band. Likewise, extended listening to music or digital content through headphones or ear buds may damage hearing over time. To help prevent that, turn the volume on your electronic device to 60 percent and listen for no longer than 60 minutes at a time, and never listen with ear buds while using power tools or a lawn mower.
Following these tips can help you focus on fun, friends and family during the summer, while helping maintain or improve your health now and in the future.