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The ‘Quintet’ of Healthy Living

Multi-TaskingQuick, try to name a few famous quintets (things that come in five.) Are you done? Quite possibly, you may have included the following: Olympic rings, Great Lakes, vowels (most of the time), points on a star, toes, The Jackson 5, The Dave Clark Five, among many others.

Now try to list five (relatively easy) things that you can do to remain healthy and prevent debilitating diseases.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these five healthy behaviors are the best assurances at preventing heart disease, cancer and other chronic diseases:

  1. No smoking – Smoking is the main cause of preventable illness and leading cause of death in the U.S.
  2. Regular exercise – Allowing employees to engage in brief bouts of physical activity or lunch breaks to socialize with co-workers can have meaningful stress-reduction benefits.
  3. Drinking alcohol in moderation, or not at all – Enough said on this behavior.
  4. Maintaining a healthy weight – Over 60 percent of Americans are overweight or obese, primarily due to consuming too few fruits and vegetables and too many carbs, added sugars and refined grains. Also, lack of physical activity impacts weight.
  5. Receiving at least seven hours of sleep per day/night – Between 50-to-70 million Americans suffer from sleep deprivation, leading to increased rates of chronic diseases and cancer, increased mortality and reduced quality of life.

I know what you might be thinking. “This sounds so easy and most Americans are doing this. Tell me something I don’t already know!”

OK, I will.

Did you know that only 6.3 percent of the U.S. adult population report engaging ALL five optimal health-related behaviors? Yes, this information comes from a recent CDC study using 2013 data. Here’s the breakdown for each of the five healthy behaviors among U.S. adults:

Apparently, Americans find it difficult to multi-task when it comes to engaging in healthy behaviors. As a male, I would venture to guess that most of the 6.3 percent responders from this particular study were most likely females. My personal observation is that males, in general, are not inclined to multi-task.

Interestingly, engaging in four or five healthy behaviors was most prevalent in the Pacific and Rocky Mountain states. The least prevalent were in the southern states and along the Ohio River. The authors of this valuable study conclude that “Collaborative efforts in health care systems, communities, work sites, and schools can promote all 5 behaviors and produce population-wide changes, especially among the socioeconomically disadvantaged.”

A good idea would be to start with the ‘easiest’ behavior and begin mastering it before moving to another behavior. Incremental improvement is more realistic for many of us. As for this writer, chewing gum, texting and humming a tune at the same time can be challenging at any given moment. But the five behaviors listed above seem to be doable – especially for those of us who have impairments while multi-tasking minute-by-minute!

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  1. Anne Kinzel says

    Some countries are beginning to experiment with guaranteed income schemes in response to automation of work. How do you think less work will impact the healthy 5?

    • David Lind says

      Good question, Anne. I would like to see available data coming from any of these countries that can help substantiate a causation to any of the healthy five. If you know of any particular results, please send them my way!

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