There are many things that contribute to our overall health. What we eat, the substances we put in our body, and even things we can’t control like genes. But did you know that where you live could be hurting you too? Have you ever thought that based on the area you live, you could be cutting your life short? Scary to think about isn’t it? Well, today we are partnering with the Aetna Foundation to share ways to be healthier where you live especially when moving isn’t an option.
Where You Live Could Be Hurting You
For many of us we live where we live because we have built a life here. We often live close to family and friends and raise our children where we were raised. Other times we are relocated due to a job offer or choice. No matter what brings us to where we are, the fact is the same: we live where we do. Unfortunately, where we are living may not be the best place for our health or the health of our loved ones. In fact, many cities are unhealthy and provide more reasons for people to be unhealthy and therefore, make many suffer from unwanted medical conditions.
Pollution, low access to healthy foods, lack of activities, and even stress can contribute to a city being unhealthy. When you really think about it, you might think that you are fairly healthy and this doesn’t apply but guess what? So does a lot of other Americans!
In fact, the majority of Americans believe they are in good health and report having five healthy days per week on average and 77 percent report being either somewhat healthy or extremely healthy. Want to know the truth though?
According to the CDC, half of all adults – 117 million – had one or more chronic health conditions, and one in four adults had two or more chronic health conditions as of 2012. (CDC) So the perception Americans have about “being healthy” is off and doesn’t add up to the amount of unhealthy Americans in each city.
You Don’t Have to Be Another Statistic
Here’s the thing, hearing that you aren’t as healthy as you may think you are can be daunting and discouraging. First off, you aren’t alone because we all have this false perception that we are healthier than we are.
The good news is, you can change and you can make a difference right where you live – without having your move and without having to change your zip code! While some areas are easier to live healthy (like somewhere near the beach for example) it doesn’t mean you can’t be proactive and help encourage healthy living in your own life and others around you.
A few ways you can help within your own community are:
- Incorporate 30 minutes of daily exercise. Getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day can make a big difference and help you feel more energized.
- Drink more water and plan your meals. Make sure that you’re getting the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables and water each day. Planning your meals ahead of time can help you incorporate healthier food options for your snacks and meals.
- Step away for small breaks, or “micro-breaks.” Life can get busy and overwhelming, but simple acts like taking a few deep breathes, standing and stretching or taking a walk can help calm the mind and relieve stress.
- Put your smart phone and yourself in sleep mode. Try to create a relaxing bedtime routine or develop a sleep schedule to help you get the best night’s rest possible, including unplugging from electronics an hour or more before bed time.
- Get involved. Staying connected to your friends and families is shown to improve health outcomes. With a strong support system, you can also help each other make healthier choices and organize ways to stay on course.
Take part in the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge
A Partnership between the Aetna Foundation, American Public Health Association and the National Association of Counties is helping cities and counties across the U.S. with ideas and solutions that empower people to make healthier choices. You can take part in ensuring your city is right on track to be part of this challenge and moving toward a healthier future.
To learn more you can visit the HealthiestCities.org and you can join the conversation on Twitter using #HealthiestCitiesChallenge.