Reduce your family’s risk of chronic disease, one step at a time

Chronic disease is a frightening term, but you can make that change.

As we age, most of us begin to take our health more seriously. We let go of the invincible feelings of our teens and begin to judge our past and the unhealthy choices we’ve made. These choices may lead to the development of chronic diseases such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, osteoarthritis and several types of cancers. “Seven of the 10 leading causes of death in the United States are chronic diseases, and almost 50 percent of Americans live with at least one chronic illness,” states the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

If we have children, we’ll take a closer look at the example we’ve set for them and review our teachings of a healthy lifestyle or lack thereof. Have we given them the tools to create healthy habits so they will not have to be concerned about chronic issues?

“Holy Wha!” as we say in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Isn’t parenting difficult enough? Here’s the “HO,” or honest opinion, as my kids say for some strategies:

  • Use reputable and educational internet resources, such as Michigan State University Extension for motivation and to learn all you can about a healthy lifestyle. For information on chronic disease visit msue.anr.msu.edu/topic/info/chronic_disease.
  • Pinterest is a resource that has motivation, recipes and articles on health. The CDC’s Healthy Communities Program provides helpful tips and information to reduce the chances of chronic disease and ways to manage living with a chronic disease.
  • Set realistic family goals to work together for everyone’s health. Talk with each other to discover what is important to each person. Honolulu Family is a helpful website when making these healthy goals.
  • Discuss health topics with your children to give them the education on a healthy lifestyle – no preaching.
  • Change or develop one habit a month. A health shift may take baby steps. It can be two steps forward and one step back, but at least you’re moving forward.
  • Build in rewards as these healthy habits become more natural. Remember that rewards should fit your new lifestyle.

With a few small changes, a healthy lifestyle is within reach. It is possible to reduce the likelihood of developing diseases that cannot be cured. For the sake of you and your family, never quit moving forward.

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