Are You Better than the Average?

If you rated your health lifestyle, where would you rate with the national average?

Do you think your score card would compare to the national average or with what is necessary for a long, quality state of life?  Consumer Reports (1)  put out an article based on the U.S. Government’s Healthy People 2010 initiative.  We’re going to look at some of these check points so you can see how you rate.  For our readers outside the U.S., you will still benefit from the health goals in these areas and the “how-to’s” of achieving good standards for a long healthy life.

Moderate Exercise

Average– 26 minutes per day for men, 19 per day for women.

Goal– 150 minutes moderate exercise per week or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise for cardiovascular health, good cognitive function, lower body fat, and less age-related muscle loss.

Optimum– For more health benefits, increase to 300 minutes moderate exercise per week or 150 minutes vigorous exercise and strength training 2 days a week.

Body Weight

Average– Body mass index of 28 for men and women, waist circumference of 39.7 for men and 37 for women.

Goal– BMI of under 25 for men and women, waist circumference of 37 for men and 32 for women to lower rate of heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and premature mortality.

How to Calculate– Your weight in pounds divided by your height in inches squared, then multiplied by 703. For ease, a BMI calculator is available at www.ConsumerReportsHealth.org/BMI . For waist, measure circumference at belly button height.

Healthy Diet

Average– Less than 3 servings a day of fruit and vegetables for men and less than 4 for women.

Goal– 2-4 servings per day of fruit and 3-5 servings per day of vegetables (5-9 total) to reduce risk of premature mortality, avoid excess weight, and provide disease-fighting nutrients.

How to Achieve– Work produce into your meals such as fruit into cereal, vegetables into omelets, shredded carrots or bean sprouts in sandwiches, fruit for dessert.

Blood Pressure

Average– 127 for systolic (upper number) and 77 for diastolic (lower number).

Goal– Systolic preferably under 120 but at least under 140 and preferably under 80 and at least under 90 as high blood pressure is the leading cause of heart attack, strokes, kidney disease, and cognitive decline.

How to Achieve– Lose excess weight, exercise regularly, cut back salt, eat lots of produce, consider medication if needed.

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Cholesterol Levels

Average– 119 for LDL (bad type) and 53 for HDL (good type).

Goal– Under 100 for LDL and over 60 HDL to lower risk of heart attack and stroke.

How to Achieve– Lose excess weight, exercise regularly, moderate alcohol if at all, eat few foods with saturated fats and eliminate all trans fats (mainly in store-bought baked goods and fast foods), use medication if help is still needed.

Heart Rate

Average– 75 beats per minute (resting heart rate) for men and 77 for women.

Goal– Less then 60 beats per minute for men and less than 64 for women, as men and women with heart rates over 90 per minute are 2 and 3 times as likely to die of heart disease.

Alcohol

Non-Healthy Rate– 28% of adults drink amounts detrimental to their health, increasing blood pressure, risk of certain types of cancer, emotional and family problems, and premature death.

Goal– No more than 2 drinks per day for a man and no more than 1 for a woman. Avoid any binge drinking (5 or more drinks). **Realize that 1 glass of beer or wine at a restaurant/bar contains far more alcohol than what researches consider 1 drink.

Driving

Average– Only 33% of drivers stay within speed limits, and only a 10% increase in speed causes a 43% rise in accident fatality.

Achieving Safety– Do not speed or tailgate (Leave 2 seconds between you and other car.), do not call or text while driving.  Phone calls while driving are as risky as driving drunk.

(1) These are excerpts from Consumer Reports’ On Health magazine, Vol.23, #1, January 2011, based on the U.S Government’s Healthy People 2010 Initiative.

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