Last week, April 5-11, was National Public Health Week, and the Illinois Department of Public Health is encouraged Illinoisans to practice good health habits.
“The key to a living a healthier life includes physical activity, regular check-ups and healthy eating. By making these smart choices about your health, you can give yourself and your loved ones the gift of a longer and healthier life,” said Dr. Damon T. Arnold, state public health director.
This year’s theme for National Public Health Week was “A Healthier America: One Community at a Time.” According to the American Public Health Association, although people in this country spend more on health care than any other nation, the nation is falling behind in many important measures of what it means to be healthy. As examples: •
• U.S. life expectancy has reached a record high of 78.1 years but still ranks 46th worldwide – behind Japan and most of Europe, as well as countries such as Guam, South Korea and Jordan.
• The U. S. is among the top 10 countries that have the most people with HIV/AIDS, and it is estimated that one in 20 residents in the nation’s capital are HIV-positive.
• Disparities persist with ethnic minority populations’ having nearly eight times the death rate for key health conditions, such as diabetes, than that of non-minority populations.
According to the “Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans,” physical activity is recommended for at least two-and-a-half hours each week. Physical activity helps to maintain weight; reduce high blood pressure; reduce risk for type 2 diabetes, heart attack, stroke, and several forms of cancer; reduce arthritis pain and associated disability; reduce risk for osteoporosis and falls; and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
The same diseases can also be brought on by poor eating habits. According to
the Dietary Guidelines for Americans,
a healthy eating plan emphasizes fruits,
vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products; includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts; is low in saturated fats, trans-fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars; and stays within a person’s daily calorie needs.
“Staying active and eating healthy are important, but you also need to make sure you go in for check-ups,” said Dr. Arnold. “Regular health exams and tests can help find problems before they start. They also can help find problems early, when your chances for treatment and cure are better. That’s why regular screenings and treatments are the best steps you can take to help your chances for living a longer, healthier life.”