Hippocrates, whose oath physicians still hold sacred, once said, “A wise man ought to realize that health is his most valuable possession.”
At long last, employers appear to be recognizing this truth and are adopting employee wellness programs as a way to support employee health, optimize productivity, and rein in healthcare costs. But why should you care about your wellness?
Wellness is “primary prevention”. By adopting healthy behaviors such as eating well, maintaining adequate activity levels, and controlling the effect that stress has on us, we can reduce the risk of experiencing acute health effects or developing chronic disease that can significantly affect our quality of life as we age. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”), our nation’s leading health authority, estimates that 75% of all healthcare spending and the suffering that accompanies medical illness and spending is spent treating completely “preventable chronic disease.”
As people age, they have the idea that developing diseases, having decreased mobility, and experiencing aches and pains are all part of the journey. Though some illness and effects of aging will occur in spite of our best efforts, most pain and suffering experienced is NOT AT ALL inevitable. Gradually adopting small changes in behavior and maintaining them over time can sustain good health. Did you know that losing 10% of your weight and staying active 4 days a week for 30 minutes reduces your blood sugar and fats as well as your chance of getting diabetes by over 50%? The path through life does not have to be filled with medicines and visits to the doctor. Practicing healthy behavior in the face of disease can significantly affect disease outcomes. Sustained, small, positive changes over time allow people to age in good health. It really is your choice.
Below are two figures that show the comparison between the “Unhealthy Lifestyle” that has been adopted by the western world and the “Healthy Lifestyle” that represents healthy living. In Figure 1, the “unhealthy” western lifestyle is impacted by more illness events in an accelerated timeframe, leading to morbidity or “suffering” (all the blue area on the graph) and death at an earlier age. Figure 2 shows how a “healthy” lifestyle minimizes negative illness events and compresses morbidity (the beige color on the graph) thus extending illness free, high quality living. It is all about your choices.
So, why should you care about your wellness? Because making positive lifestyle behavior changes now will allow you to longer enjoy the people you love and take part in the things you like to do. With small meaningful changes that add up over time, you have more control over your health. Following the “80/20 Rule” (eating and acting for good health 80% of the time) can start you on the road to persistent good health and sustained quality of life. Make the investment now. You will be so glad you did.