“Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.” ~ Jim Rohn
I recently read a research brief published by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College titled, How Will More Obesity and Less Smoking Affect Life Expectancy. In the piece, Dr. Samuel Preston and colleagues write that personal behaviors can have a major influence on how long people live. Two especially damaging behaviors are smoking and the poor nutrition and exercise habits that result in obesity. No surprise there, right?
Obesity is on the rise while smoking is on the decline.The question is whether the benefits from less smoking will outweigh the harm from rising obesity. The brief projects how changes in obesity and smoking will impact life expectancy in 2040.
Adults smoke for a variety of reasons. They may have stress and pressures because of economic and personal reasons. They may be unemployed or not working, homeless, or in bad relationships. Smoking may give them energy while going through a hard time. And then there are people who simply love to smoke; it gives them pleasure. After all, it is a choice.
Similarly, the idea of a tax on soda is being debated in New York and elsewhere. Will raising prices lower consumption, leading to better health among Americans? The fact is that the tax will fall more heavily on poorer people, for whom a few cents has a greater impact, and who (adults!) in fact drink far more soda. It is still their affordable pleasure yet poorer people are more likely to be obese and have diabetes.
In my work inspiring people to choose enlightened lifestyles, I’ve found that change is contagious. When people realize that lifestyle change is achievable, especially for them, they give greater thought to effecting change; not only for themselves but for their families, their wellness, and a healthy, longer life.
There is plenty of information for people interested in their longevity and what can be done to optimize it. Here are three considerations if you’re open to exploring healthy/healthier lifestyles:
- Join a group. Great things happen in groups. Consider joining a community outreach program, the Sierra Club, a book club, a hiking group or a neighborhood committee. Pursue your passions, share with like-minded people, let your voice be heard and step your physical activity up a notch.
- Remember to change more than your gym membership or what’s in your pantry/refrigerator. Be ready to change something about yourself or your life that will clear the way to reaching your goals and full potential. Keep an open mind and don’t be hard on yourself. Give yourself permission to be imperfect and reward yourself for incremental achievements.
- What you may not know is that sugar is a far more dangerous influence to your health than cigarettes. It is important to stop both but not simultaneously. Taking on the task of quitting smoking ought to be done once you have an optimal diet in place and you are feeling good.