Choices That Affect Your Health

EATING right and keeping fit often present a challenge. Under today’s pressures, it seems more convenient to eat processed “comfort foods” than to prepare fresh dishes and easier to spend free time in front of the TV or computer than to take part in physical activity. These choices, however, may be condemning a growing number of adults and children to serious health problems.

In Asia, says Asiaweek magazine, “rich diets and increasingly sedentary habits are creating a diabetes epidemic.” Disturbingly, the disease is striking ever younger members of society. And in Canada “researchers found that only one in seven preteens eat sufficient quantities of fruits and vegetables [and] that just over half play enough to ever break a sweat,” reports The Globe and Mail. Such a life-style puts these youngsters “on the fast track for heart disease by their 30s,” states the report.

Similarly, sleep experts say that adults may need about eight hours of sleep every night and that young people may need even more. In fact, in a University of Chicago study, healthy young men who got only four hours of sleep on six consecutive nights began to show signs of medical problems usually associated with senior citizens. Though many people sacrifice precious hours of sleep for the sake of work, school, or pleasure, the results can be counterproductive. “It’s one thing to function,” notes New York’s Cornell University sleep researcher James Maas, “another to be alert, creative and not have an unintended sleep seizure driving down the freeway.”

Of course, other factors also affect our physical well-being. Having a positive outlook, for example, can benefit our health. And having a real purpose in life can motivate us to make choices that will help us to stay healthy.