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4 Healthy Habits That Cut Disease Risk: Study Shows People Who Follow these 4 Habits Sharply Reduce Risk of Serious Disease

  1. Don't smoke.
  2. Get off the sofa and take a walk.
  3. Stay away from the junk food.
  4. Watch your waistline.

You may have heard the advice before. But did you know that if you follow all four of these healthy habits together, you could decrease your chances of developing some of the most common and deadly chronic diseases by nearly 80%?

Researchers reporting in this month's Archives of Internal Medicine analyzed the health, lifestyles, and diet of 23,513 German adults 35 to 65 years old, starting in the mid-1990s. The study showed that those who had more healthy habits were much less likely to get diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease .

The analysis included a detailed look at each person's body weight and height , disease background, food frequency, and how well they followed these four healthy lifestyle habits over the eight-year study period:

Most of the people in the study had at least one healthy habit; only 9% said they followed all four.

After adjusting for risk factors that might influence the development of disease, the researchers learned that those who followed all four healthy habits had a 78% lower risk of developing a chronic condition such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or cancer compared to those who reported none of the healthy habits.

Specifically, in the study, all four of the healthy habits combined were linked to a:

Researchers say it's important to adopt and teach healthy habits early in life. Their findings "reinforce current public health recommendations to avoid smoking, to maintain a healthy weight, to engage in physical activity appropriately and to eat adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables and foods containing whole grains and to partake of red meat prudently," study author Earl S. Ford, MD, MPH, of the CDC, and colleagues write.

The following habits may help you lower your risk of developing chronic diseases. They are listed in order of largest to smallest impact on disease risk, as determined by the recent study.

  1. Maintain a healthy weight. Your body mass index should be lower than 30.  
  2. Never smoke. (But if you already do, you should quit.)
  3. Get at least 3.5 hours of exercise every week.
  4. Follow a healthy diet. Ask your doctor for recommendations.

Source:
Kelli Miller Stacy- WebMD Medical News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

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Shifting your habits to live a healthier life can be a very daunting challenge. The Living Well Health Manager, powered by WebMD, Lifestyle Improvement Programs gives you access to a variety of personalized, self-paced health improvement programs that can help you address many of the less healthful habits that people commonly struggle with. From managing your weight, quitting smoking, or even reducing stress – you’ll find a variety of different programs designed to inspire and reinforce positive behavior change. These tailored online programs combine proven methodology with privacy, security and convenience.

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Start Living Well – register online at www.webmdhealth.com/ut and complete your HQ now and enjoy all the benefits!

OTHER KEY FEATURES

The Living Well Health Manager, powered by WebMD will be available to all UT SELECT members (you, your spouse and dependent over the age of 18) starting July 1, 2009, exclusively through the "Living Well Health Manager powered by WebMD web site at: www.webmdhealth.com/ut.

Get To Know Yourself. The WebMD HealthQuotient (HQ) is one of the most powerful tools available to you through the new ‘Living Well Health Manager, powered by WebMD’ online program. Just answer a few simple questions, and you’ll receive detailed information about your personal health risk factors – along with a customized plan to help reduce or eliminate them. With HQ, your health isn’t left up to fate. It’s up to you.

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Here’s what you can expect when you complete your WebMD HQ:

To complete the WebMD HQ, go to www.webmdhealth.com/ut.

Living Well Health Manager—Health Coaching
Some individuals may be eligible to receive support from a personal Health Coach. Through a series of convenient phone conversations, your Health Coach can help you establish your health goals — and create a personalized program to meet your needs. Your coach will help you focus on the lifestyle behaviors that can help maximize your health. Some of the topics you discuss may include:

To see if you’re eligible for a personal Health Coach, you must first complete your HQ in which can be accessed through the Living Well Health Manager site. While it’s up to you to take the first step toward better health by completing the HQ, support is just around the corner to help you achieve your big dreams of better health. To complete the WebMD HQ, go to www.webmdhealth.com/ut.

IMPORTANT:

This information is provided by The University of Texas System, Office of Employee Benefits and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.

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