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THE ISSUE: Getting healthier in 2013
OUR VIEW: Resolutions made, now consider methods
Across Hardin County and beyond, people are striving to achieve a better version of themselves. Four days into a new year, resolutions are charging ahead, most commonly on a mission to improve health.
As a county, there’s certainly room for such improvements.
In 2012, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute released a slew of health data, broken down by county. Counties were scored and ranked, and Hardin County was ranked the 15th healthiest of Kentucky’s 120 counties.
A little deeper in the report, figures related to two of the most controllable health factors — smoking and obesity — were alarming, though. Smoking, poor food choices and physical inactivity are all too common and inspire some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions.
Twenty-six percent of adults in Hardin County smoke, taking on an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, lung and many other cancers, peripheral vascular disease and more.
Nearly one in five deaths in the United States can be traced to smoking, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There’s a pure flood of information on the risks of smoking, but what ought to stand out is that nonsmokers live longer, all other things being equal. Quitting is a wise, responsible endeavor.
Also, 31 percent of Hardin County adults are obese. These folks face higher risks for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, stroke, some cancers, gynecological problems and more. The report estimated 30 percent of Hardin Countians 20 and older have no leisure time physical activity. Adopting healthy eating and exercise plans is a commendable resolution.
Health officials advise that resolutions should focus on making gradual lifestyle changes within set time frames. You might resolve to eat healthy snacks or to stop skipping breakfast by the end of the month — rather than promising to lose 30 pounds by summer.
It helps to consider what psychology and neurology tells us about our habits, too. For example, as described in the recent book “Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg, changing habits hinges on understanding the three-step habit loop.
First, there’s a cue. The cue then triggers the brain to let an automatic routine — the actual habit — play out. Finally, there’s the reward, something the routine gives us that helps our brain remember the loop.
Understanding the cues and the rewards are critical steps in changing the habit.
As for motivation, known to elude resolution-makers quickly, health professionals recommend teaming up with a friend, establishing a support system and rewarding yourself.
Overall, setting reasonable goals and developing a well-researched plan give you the best chances for success. May new habits bring you health and happiness in 2013.
If you haven’t made a healthy resolution, this is as good a time as any to consider steps to a healthier you.
The fifth annual Health & Wellness Expo, set for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Colvin Community Center in Radcliff, might be a good place to start. Area businesses and organizations will promote wellness through about 30 booths. A blood drive also is planned. The event is free, but a canned food item donation is suggested.
This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.