Start taking small steps to health and wealth in 2012

Financial problems negatively affects health, and poor health negatively affects personal finances. Small Steps to Health and Wealth can help.

Just in time to rescue failed New Year’s resolutions to improve health and personal finances, the Cooperative Extension system has Small Steps to Health and Wealth™ (SSHW) to provide you help.

The statistics are startling. Thirty-six percent of Michigan adults are overweight and another 31 percent of Michigan adults are obese. In Michigan, an estimated 1 million people are living with diabetes, either diagnosed or undiagnosed, according to the Michigan Department of Community Health. That’s one in 11 adults. In addition, an estimated 2 million adults in Michigan have prediabetes, a condition where people have higher than normal blood glucose levels, but not yet high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes. As much as 80 percent of the growth in diabetes is attributed to obesity. At the same time, many families are rethinking their finances around high debt and low savings. Financial problems negatively affect health, and poor health negatively affects personal finances. Both issues develop slowly and take time to address.

The Small Steps to Health and Wealth™ (SSHW) program provides information to help you take charge of your health and financial future. It was designed to motivate participants to take action to improve their lives by making small, positive behavior change, such as saving five dollars a day or or cutting 100 calories per day. After reading about the many similarities between health and wealth issues, program participants can then choose between 25 behavior change strategy fact sheets with health and wealth “action steps”. This provides an opportunity to apply the strategy to health and wealth goals and life situation.

The authors suggest adopting no more than three or four strategies and to coordinate those that are related such as automating a good habit to defy a statistic and to reach a recommended benchmark. The list of strategies can be thought of a “menu” from which participants will choose the ideas that work best for their individual situation and goals.

It has been well documented that when people monitor their behavior and measure how they’re doing, they are often inspired to do better and achieve positive results. The Small Steps to Health and Wealth™ program program provides tools to help participants monitor their goals. Examples include various paper tracking forms which can be downloaded to keep track of daily activities.“SSHW is a great way to convert ambitions, like losing weight and saving money, into daily action steps,” notes Dr. Barbara O’Neill, Extension Specialist in Financial Resource Management for Rutgers Cooperative Extension.

Changing long term habits around health and finances is not easy, but becoming necessary for many Michigan residents. Having tools like SSHW helps to focus and guide personal action steps.

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