When it comes to achieving a healthy lifestyle and to live a life that you want, there are several risk factors to keep in mind that can derail your life in an instant. For this paper, we will be focusing on five factors that can have catastrophic effects on a person throughout their life if not prevented through proper fitness, diet, and other healthy habits. In researching this topic, there are two key terms to define when looking at the risk factors and how they contribute to a person’s overall health. The first term is wellness. One of the leading universities in regards to Physical Education and fitness/wellness programs is located at the University of California, Davis. The definition of wellness stated by the website for U.C. Davis is the following:
Wellness is an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life. Wellness is more than being free from illness, it is a dynamic process of change and growth, (U.C. Davis Website).
The other term that is being defined for this paper is physical fitness. In February 2015, the New World Encyclopedia changed their definition of physical fitness to the following:
Physical fitness is the capacity of the heart, blood vessels, lungs, and muscles to function at optimum efficiency. In previous years, fitness was defined as the capacity to carry out the day’s activities without undue fatigue, (New World Encyclopedia).
In looking at physical fitness and wellness, there are several risk factors that exist that can cause serious effects on a person and their quality of life as a whole. Some of these factors include high blood pressure, obesity, tobacco use of both smoking and smokeless tobacco, high cholesterol, and one of the most overlooked which is a poor diet.
This first risk factor being studies is high blood pressure. There are several adverse effects that high blood pressure can have on the body. One of the world’s leading medical research centers, the Mayo Clinic states, “Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to stroke by damaging and weakening your brain’s blood vessels, causing them to narrow, rupture or leak. High blood pressure can also cause blood clots to form in the arteries leading to your brain, blocking blood flow and potentially causing a stroke, “(Mayo Clinic website). This has hit my immediate family as my aunt Shannon suffered a stroke at the age of 25 due to a wrong prescription. She lost the use of her left arm and had to learn how to walk and speak again. She is doing much better today after years of therapy and a very tough physical fitness program.
The next risk factor is obesity. According to Stanford University Healthcare, obesity is one of the most serious problems our nation faces. On their website, they describe that up to 150 billion dollars is spent every year to fight the effects of obesity. Effects on the body from obesity include, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, joint problems due to the excess weight that can lead to arthritis, sleep apnea as well as other mental problems.
The third risk factor is tobacco use. Having played baseball in places all over the West Coast and Midwest, I have seen a lot of examples of what smokeless tobacco can do to people. Again, the Stanford University Healthcare website is used for research on this risk factor. Stanford University states, “Smoking has been shown to promote the acceleration of atherosclerotic disease and has been identified as one of the strongest risk factors in the development of peripheral artery disease”, (Stanford University Website). Both smoking tobacco and using smokeless tobacco can have the same effects on the body including: blood clots, heart attacks, stroke, and increased carbon monoxide in the blood. Combined with any of the other risk factors being discussed and this can have a drastic effect on your life and how long you will live.
The fourth risk factor is high cholesterol. The Mayo clinic in an article on their website describes that we need cholesterol and not all cholesterol is bad. It’s a waxy substance actually found in fats and actually helps build healthy cells. However, you can have too much of a good thing. When you have high cholesterol, you can end up having fatty deposits that end up blocking your arteries and causing high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes due to the loss of circulation.
Finally, the last risk factor that is being discussed is having a poor diet. In a May, 2017 article written by the Center for Disease Control, they discuss the effects of a poor diet as, “A poor diet can lead to energy imbalance (e.g., eating more calories than your body uses) and can increase the risk of becoming overweight or obese. A poor diet can increase the risk for lung, esophageal, stomach, colorectal, and prostate cancers.”
Now that the risk factors have been identified, what can a person do to alleviate any of these risk factors from their own life? The first is ensuring that you are getting adequate exercise which at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise is recommended daily. The second is to not only eat properly and have a proper diet, but to hydrate effectively. Currently the CDC states that up to 10% of a student’s diet intake is sugar based drinks. Drinking water and other healthy alternatives can have a dramatic improvement on a person’s health. If a person combines these two things with regular doctor visits and knowing their Body Mass Index or BMI, they can effectively monitor their health and prevent many health problems before they exist. When trying to live the life that you want, it’s important to keep all of the positive strategies in mind to have the best life possible.