Throughout history, mankind’s future was largely determined by fate. Infectious diseases like Diphtheria and Smallpox could wipe out an entire family in just a few days. People were vulnerable to outside threats ranging from a lack of clean drinking water to poor sanitation to gaps in environmental infrastructure that led to a host of infectious diseases. Science had not discovered medications to help prevent or treat infectious diseases; people weren’t aware of the direct link between lifestyle and health; and the lack of safe transportation and workplace safety standards led to all sorts of accidents that took lives.
But it is very different for us. We control our own destiny. We’ve developed effective public health interventions over the last 100 years like vaccine, environmental engineering, vehicle safety, sanitation and the like. The things that threaten your health today are things that you have control over- and they’re pretty simple.
Stay physically active. Make better food choices. Drink & eat in moderation. Don’t smoke. Get vaccinated. Buckle up and drive sober. Look both ways before crossing the street. Talk to your doctor about routine health screenings. Monitor and control your blood pressure & blood sugar.
Sounds simple enough, right? The problem is that many of us slip into sloppy routines. We don’t do the simple things that can make a big difference in how we age and feel day to day. But the great thing is that it’s never too late to grab your bootstraps and clean up your lifestyle. That’s where Arizona’s public health system can be your partner.
During the next year, we’ll be providing simple information you can use to update your family’s lifestyle. Our 2010 Champion for Change program (at www.eatwellbewell.org) can help. By taking one step at a time, you can make lasting changes to improve your family’s health. To help you get started, we’ve added resources and tools to help you to shape your family’s food consumption in a positive way, and help you to take positive steps toward increasing your physical activity.
Here are some examples of how to get started. A recent study found we can save thousands of lives in Arizona every year just by reducing how much salt we eat. By learning to read the Nutrition Facts, paying attention to the Sodium part of the label, and incorporating sodium levels into your purchasing decision, you can cut way back on your family’s salt consumption- and save their heart to boot. You can also sign up to receive a “healthy recipe a week” in your Inbox by joining our growing list of folks making the commitment to improve their family’s health at www.eatwellbewell.org. Even putting a white board up in your kitchen and asking your family to track their physical activity can help. And, of course, if you need help kicking the habit you can visit the www.ashline.org website.