This New Year’s I’m advocating for a new resolution: prehabilitation. It’s the opposite of rehabilitation. It’s a real word defined as “a form of strength training, aims to prevent injuries before the actual occurrence.”
What a great idea; fix it before it is broken. Especially since we live in a country where, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 7 out of 10 deaths among Americans each year are from chronic diseases, many of which are preventable and 1 out of 2 Americans has at least one chronic disease.
Here is the “What” from the CDC’s breakdown of health problems in the USA:
- 1 in every 3 adults is obese and almost 1 in 5 youth between the ages of 6 and 19 is obese (BMI ≥ 95th percentile of the CDC growth chart).
- About ¼ of people with chronic conditions have limitations on one or more daily activities.
- Arthritis limits the activity of 19 million Americans. It is the most common cause of disability.
- Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, non-traumatic leg amputations, and blindness among adults, aged 20-74.
- 26 million adults currently have diabetes and 79 million have prediabetes, a condition where the blood sugar is elevated but not high enough to be diabetes.
- Too much alcohol consumption is the third leading preventable cause of death in the US, behind poor diet combined with lack of exercise and smoking
Here’s the “Why” that prehabilitation would prevent through behavior modification:
- More than 1/3 exercise below the recommended 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, and 23% get no physical activity at all in the preceding month.
- Less than 22% of high school students and only 24% of adults eat the recommended 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day
- 1 in 5 Americans (over 43 million) still smoke; this includes 20% of high school students. Men who smoke are about 23 times more likely to develop lung cancer and women who smoke are about 13 times more likely.
- 17% of US adults binge drink, (defined as over 4 drinks on an occasion for women or 5 drinks for men), averaging 8 drinks per binge.
Here are 11 Prehabilitation Tips for the New Year to tell you “How:”
1. The Affordable Care Act is encouraging work places to provide wellness centers. Take advantage of them. Yoga or a short walk at lunchtime, using ergonomically friendly chairs and taking phone calls while standing are all things that can be done easily.
2. Bring healthy snacks to work like a bag of carrots or celery or a healthy power bar to munch on instead of a candy bar from the vending machine.
3. Drink your coffee without sugar and with skim milk
4. Cut out sodas and sweetened drinks
5. Avoid fried foods
6. Unclutter your work area to decrease stress.
7. Go to sleep at a regular time and give yourself time to unwind before going to bed
8. Quit smoking
9. Limit alcohol intake. I drink daily for a woman and 2 drinks daily for a man should be the absolute tops.
10. Socialize to increase your happiness
11. Slow your breathing to feel calmer – most Americans breath 12 to 18 shallow breathes per minute rather than 6 to 8 deeper breathes per minute
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