Nearly 40% of deaths in America can be attributed to smoking, physical inactivity, poor diet, or alcohol misuse-behaviors practiced by many people every day for much of their lives. Adopting healthy behaviors such as eating nutritious foods, being physically active, and avoiding tobacco use can prevent or control the devastating effects of many of the nation's leading causes of death regardless of one's age.
Regular physical activity greatly reduces a person's risk from dying of heart disease, and decreases the risk for colon cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Physical activity also helps to control weight; contributes to healthy bones, muscles, and joints; helps to relieve the pain of arthritis; reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression; and can decrease the need for hospitalizations, physician visits, and medications. Finally, physical activity does not need to be strenuous to be beneficial; people of all ages benefit from moderate physical activity. However, people tend to be less active as they age. By age 75, about one in three men and one in two women do not engage in any physical activity.1 Organizations and agencies who are looking for assistance in planning strategies to help older adults increase their physical activity can use The National Blueprint: Increasing Physical Activity Among Adults Age 50 and Older.*
Good nutrition, including a diet that is low in saturated fats and contains five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day (see the 5 A Day for Better Health Program), is vital in maintaining good health. Improving the diet of older adults could extend the productive life span of Americans and reduce the occurrence of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, some types of cancer, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Less than one-third of adults 65 years and older meet the 5 A Day recommendation.
Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death and disease in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates that cigarette smoking is responsible for one of every five deaths in the United States, or more than 440,000 deaths each year. Tobacco use increases the risk for diseases of the heart and cancer. Smoking cessation has major and immediate health benefits for men and women of all ages, regardless of whether they have a smoking-related disease.
* Links to non-Hillcrest organizations are provided solely as a service to our users. Links do not constitute an endorsement of any organization by Hillcrest Health System, and none should be inferred. Hillcrest is not responsible for the content of the individual organization Web pages found at this link.