RECLAIM YOUR FUTURE HEALTH
Sara Harris, MPH Co-founder, Watson Edwards
How do you envision yourself at 65? Are you going to be Donna who can still chase after her grandkids, walk up a flight of steps, and break into the cupid shuffle? Preparing to be Donna requires healthy habits in the interim to boost your happiness and likelihood of free mobility and good heart health. What we do now accumulates and manifests in our future selves. Similar to a retirement savings plan, what we consume and do with our bodies every day is a small down payment for our later health. I encourage you to take a minute and envision who you want to be in 20, 30, or even 40 years.
Name your post-retirement self, visualize the kind of life you want at that age, and imagine what you’ll be doing with your free time. Once you become familiar with your future self, keep him or her in mind as you go through your daily activities. Make wellness decisions that will make that vision of yourself possible in your golden years.
Adopting a wellness lifestyle is essential for sustained good health. You probably already know many people who are chronically stressed, have high blood pressure, are overweight, or are diabetic. Young African Americans are at increased risk for these and other serious health conditions. African Americans are more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than white and Asian Americans, over two-thirds of African American adults are overweight or obese, and more than 40 percent of African Americans have high blood pressure. These health conditions not only increase our risk of heart disease and stroke, but are also expensive to treat. Medical costs are 2.3 times higher for people living with diabetes than non-diabetics and the average additional medical cost for people who are overweight or obese was $266 and $1723 in 2008, respectively. The good news is that we can reverse, delay, or even prevent these conditions. Eating a heart- healthy diet, exercising at least 150 minutes a week, and monitoring stress are all shown to lower the risk of heart-related disease.
Easier said than done, right? Sure, we’ve heard that eating well, exercising, and meditating are the right things to do, but how do we actually do these things on a daily basis? Start with one lifestyle change. Modifying, tracking and automating one small behavior will put you on the right path to reclaiming your future health.
Sara Harris is a Thursday Network Member.