Maintaining health and delaying the onset of chronic disease represent the most promising paths to continued longevity gains and quality of life improvements. Adopting a healthy lifestyle is key to accomplishing health goals. Those who make lifestyle improvements or make healthy choices can on average expect longer lives. When it comes to these behaviors, most Americans may not be fully aware of just how important it is to eat well, exercise, and get enough sleep. For instance, sociologists S. Jay Olshansky and colleagues suggest that the rapid rise in obesity rates may cause a “pulse event of mortality in the United States — akin to the large number of deaths caused by an influenza pandemic or a war, but spread out over the next four or five decades.” The healthy living index below summarizes eight metrics characterizing two sets of lifestyle choices fundamental to longevity and well-being: healthy daily activities and avoidance of risky behaviors.
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HEALTHY LIVING INDEX
Included in the Index
• Regular exercise
• Limited sedentary behavior
• Eating 5 fruits and vegetables
• Healthy BMI
• Sufficient sleep
• No Illicit drug use
• No Tobacco and nicotine use
• No binge drinking
Smoking – the top preventable cause of morbidity and early mortality – is declining in every age group.
For the first time in decades, more Americans are reporting exercising regularly, especially Millennials (25-34).
Sitting, which has emerged as an independent risk factor for poor health, is steeply increasing.
Insufficient levels of healthy diet and sleep are widespread and show no signs of abating.