If we were given a medicine, recognized universally, that enabled us with the power to reshuffle our genetic deck of cards and positively impact the route of our own health and longevity, would we use it? Likewise, would we use this medicine, with its bountiful resources and minimal risks, frequently enough to make an impact? This is lifestyle medicine and with current sickcare trends and data, it seems as though the answers to these questions would be no. The Center for Disease Control’s 2016 Chartbook on long-term health trends in health depicts a calamitous reality. In 2013-2014, 36.5% of adults aged 18-44 and 69.6% of adults aged 45-64 took a prescription drug in the past month. Additionally, “between 1988–1994 and 2013–2014, the percent of adults reporting the use of five or more prescription drugs in the past 30 days rose—by 2.7 percentage points for adults aged 18–44 and 12.8 percentage points for adults aged 45–64”. Regrettably, the prominent use of these pharmaceutical impositions encompasses a mindset of disproportional dependency on morbid living rather than capturing the prominent benefit of sustainable, quality living. However, such a mindset and outcome can be mitigated through the regimented and frequent use of lifestyle medicine strategies that impact long-term behavior modification while concurrently optimizing our longevity. In a culture dependent on pharmaceutical interventions to extend years of morbid health, the necessity for substantial and prominent lifestyle medicine strategies is more critical than ever.
“Comprehensive lifestyle changes may be able to bring about regression of even severe coronary atherosclerosis after only 1 year, without use of lipid-lowering drugs”. The insurmountable and irrefutable research-backed evidence for lifestyle medicine has always been and will always be a potent cornerstone and building block for constructing a health-promoting lifestyle. Even more is the effective and powerful ability of lifestyle medicine to not only keep chronic disease at bay but also reverse such maladies, in some instances, without the dreadful and compounding side effects. To have this practical, life-saving ability to add quality years to your life and cash in your wallet is certainly one not to miss out on.
Unfortunately, however, we are missing out. We are missing out by quite a bit even though the resources we have available to us today via lifestyle medicine are all we need to add quality years to life and life to years. We continue to sit back, sit back in chairs that redeem a pathetic power to mold and direct our deteriorating health and well-being. We sit back and provide the opportunity for scientifically devised junk and addictive food to fight for our stomach space and digital connectedness to rob us of sleep-thriving nights and stress-free minds. We sit back and wait until the research perfectly aligns, a magic pill comes into play or the simplicity and convenience of a fountain of youth dissolves over us. This sit and wait and seek until found mentality is best reflected in an article titled “We’re So Confused: The Problems With Food and Exercise Studies”.
“Nearly everything you have been told about the food you eat and the exercise you do and their effects on your health should be met with a raised eyebrow”. The point of confusion in this article has little to do with scientific rigor or a gold standard of measurement. Rather, the confusion lies in the predominant focus of dissecting lifestyle medicine practices into microscopic elements. Such microscopic levels of lifestyle medicine practices, as seen in micronutrient potency and effectiveness and independent variables of exercise prescription design, move us farther from simplicity, functionality, sustainability and practicality. Yes, single micronutrients, exercises, and sleep strategies envelope their own power to improve cellular processes, muscular endurance and strength, and brain function but why are we compartmentalizing such microscopic pieces when we know the sum of the whole is much more powerful than the parts? With 35.7% of adults considered obese and 6.3% of adults considered morbidly obese, maximizing the power of lifestyle medicine is a non-argumentative way to improve both individual and population health. This maximization is best approached through the COLLECTIVE power of multiple, diverse strategies-not microscopic parts-that, when applied frequently enough, have the potent ability to add years to life and life to years. The confusion about whether to eat an apple or banana, to avoid carbohydrates or not, or to bike or strength train is a moot point. With a nation that is so malnourished and overweight, sedentary, sleep deprived, and highly stressed, we are losing precious time on topics that may not beneficially impact the whole when we can be focusing on purposeful movement, wholesome nourishment, sleep-thriving nights, and stress-free minds. As Dr. David Katz mentioned, “We are not clueless about the basic care of homo sapiens”. Likewise, there should be no confusion about the power lifestyle medicine has on adding years to life and life to years. This we should all be in agreeance on:
Movement over sedentarism
Nourishment over malnourishment
Sleep-thriving nights over sleep deprivation
Stress-FREE over StressFUL
Here’s to doing with the power of knowing that we already have what we need, by way of cost-effective resources, to live a life full of optimal longevity, health and happiness. As for the rest, well, we can walk and talk it over!
Best in health and happiness,
Colleen M. Faltus, MS, CPT
1. National Center for Health Statistics. Health, United States, 2016: With Chartbook on Long-term Trends in Health. Hyattsville, MD. 2017.
2. Kolata, G. (2016, August 11). The New York Times . Retrieved from We’re So Confused: The Problems With Food and Exercise Studies : http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/11/upshot/were-so-confused-the-problems-with-food-and-exercise-studies.html?_r=1