AHA: 12 Percent of Americans Regularly Practice Healthy Habits

Of those that listed an excuse for not following through with healthy habits, the most common culprit is said to be a lack of time.

A recent American Heart Association survey reports that 12 percent of American adults regularly practice all of these healthy habits: good nutrition, exercise, and oral care. Of those that listed an excuse for not following through with healthy habits, the most common culprit is said to be a lack of time.

The survey showed that among American adults, two health behaviors not practiced regularly are identified with improving cardiovascular health:

  • 80 percent say eating at least nine servings of fruit and vegetables daily is a struggle
  • About 60 percent say it is difficult to get the American Heart Association’s recommended levels of exercise—at least 150 minutes every week of moderate physical activity such as brisk walking

The survey also showed that 25 percent aren’t regularly practicing a healthy oral care routine—brushing and rinsing twice daily and flossing at least once daily. A positive aspect of the survey shows that 90 percent of Americans are in the mindset to improve their health.

AHA recommends that Americans eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole-grain products, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products

  • Vegetables and fruits are high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber—and they’re low in calories. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables may help you control your weight and your blood pressure.
  • Unrefined whole-grain foods contain fiber that can help lower your blood cholesterol and help you feel full, which may help you manage your weight.
  • Eat fish at least twice a week. Recent research shows that eating oily fish containing omega-3 fatty acids (for example, salmon, trout, and herring) may help lower your risk of death from coronary artery disease.

Here are some tips for exercise success:

  • Start slowly. Gradually build up to at least 30 minutes of activity on most or all days of the week (or whatever your doctor recommends).
  • Exercise at the same time of day so it becomes a regular part of your lifestyle. For example, you might walk every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from noon to 12:30 p.m.
  • Find a convenient time and place to do activities. Try to make it a habit, but be flexible. If you miss an exercise opportunity, work activity into your day another way.
  • Choose activities that are fun, not exhausting. Add variety. Develop a repertoire of several activities that you can enjoy. That way, exercise will never seem boring or routine.

“Whether it is simply adding a 30-minute brisk walk to your day, eating a few more fruits and vegetables with your meals, balancing your calories and physical activity to achieve a healthy body weight, or creating routine oral care habits—it all contributes to an overall healthier lifestyle,” said Tracy Stevens, M.D. American Heart Association spokesperson and professor of medicine—cardiologist with Saint Luke’s Cardiovascular Consultants in Kansas City, Missouri.

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