Humana and Readerâs Digest
polled the nation to bring you the Secrets of Healthy Americans, and weâre sharing the highlights with you in this 8-part series. Answer the questions here. Then see how you compare to the nationwide sample who took the Humana Readerâs Digest Healthy Habits Survey 2012âand get easy-to-follow advice to help you live a healthier life.
And, as an exclusive bonus, download all 8 free parts of our Secrets of Healthy Americans
reports, including 200+ health tips on Fitness, Sleep, Germs, Protecting Yourself From Illness, Eating Right, Boosting Your Mood, Reducing Stress, and Sharpening Your Brain.
1. Whatâs the healthiest thing you can do right this minute?
A: Stand up and start moving Our Healthy Habits Survey shows that far too many Americans, especially those over 65, are jeopardizing their health by living sedentary lives. Are you active enough?
2. What is your level of fitness? Do you consider yourself:
a) Above average
c) Below average
2. Here's how you compare:
Half of those Humana and Readerâs Digest polled called their level of fitness Average. The other half split almost evenly between Above and Below Average. Check with your doctor if you have doubts about how physically active you should be.
Hereâs an idea: Set a regular time in your daily calendar to be physically active, even if itâs simply walking, and keep that date. Experts say you are more likely to do something when you make a specific promise to yourself to do it.
3. How much time did you spend outside yesterday?
a) 4 hours or more
b) 3 to 4 hours
c) 1 to 2 hours
d) Less than an hour
3. Here's how you compare:
On average, Americans spend about two hours a day outdoors. However, roughly one person out of three said they spend less than an hour outside. And, whatâs worse, our findings suggest that one out of four, especially women 65 or older, spend less than 15 minutes a day outdoors!
Experts say everyoneâs goal should be at least 30 minutes of activityâeven walking or gardeningâmost days of the week. Thatâs enough exercise to get any number of benefits, including increased immunity, less joint pain, better weight control and more.
Hereâs an idea: If youâre not very active, start with one 10-minute walk a day at a steady pace. Build up slowly to 15 minutes, then 20 and finally 30 minutes or more.
4. How many total hours did you spend sitting yesterday, including watching TV, in front of a computer, driving and so on?
a) 5 hours or more
b) 3 to 4 hours
c) 1 to 2 hours
d) Less than an hour
4. Here's how you compare:
Our survey shows that, on average, Americans are spending more time sitting than sleepingâa little over seven hours a day vs. a wink under seven. And the less active people are, the more likely they are to rate their health as only fair or poor and to report themselves as about 40 pounds overweight.
Hereâs an idea: Put the one-hour kitchen timer next to your TV. When it rings, stand up, shut off the TV and take a little walk.
5. Did you take the stairs or the elevator yesterday?
a) The stairs
b) The elevator
5. Here's how you compare:
Of those polled, more than half said they took the stairsâexcept for those 65 or older. More than half of the older group preferred riding the elevator to climbing stairs.
Hereâs an idea: No one expects you to climb 10 stories to your office. On the other hand, if you work on the second or third floor, why not take the stairs? And when you go to the mall, why not park as far from the stores as possible? Youâll find a parking spot easier, and youâll get in some exercise even before you burn more calories strolling around window shopping.
6. Did you play a sport yesterday?
6. Here's how you compare:
Our findings suggest that a little fewer than 10% of Americans play a sport on any given day. Thatâs unfortunate. However, as you learned in kindergarten, playing well with others is worthwhile and enjoyable.
Hereâs an idea: Find a fun activity to do with friendsâanything from a friendly game of tennis, a weekly round of bowling, or even miniature golf. Chances are strong that youâll be more likely to keep the date, rather than disappoint othersâand that youâll benefit from the camaraderie and positive feedback. The more you enjoy an activity, the more you figure to do it.
7. Which phrase best describes you?
a) Health Nut
b) Couch Potato
c) Gym Rat
7. Here's how you compare:
Twice as many people in our poll identified themselves Health Nuts as opposed to Couch Potatoes (or Gym Rats). The high proportion of people who choose to call themselves anything but Couch Potatoes is encouraging. However, experts caution that, given all the time people spend sitting, those positive response may have been inflated.
Hereâs an idea: Set a moderate and achievable goal. Studies show you can get the benefits of physical activity while building up to walking 30 minutes a day, four days a week. If you do more, such as adding basic strength and flexibility exercise, you should benefit even more. But the common sense point remains. You donât need to be a health nut or a gym rat. Just donât be a couch potato!
8. In general, would you say your health is:
b) Very Good
8. Here's how you compare:
A solid 80% of those polled said their health was good, very good or excellent, compared to 20% who said fair or poor. Among the group 65 or older, more described their health as poor compared to Americans overall (8% vs. 5%). But more of the older group also said their health was excellent (13% vs. 11%). If you have any doubts about the benefits of exercising, consider this: Nearly half of all Americans who said they did no physical activity in the past week rated their health as only fair or poor.
Hereâs an idea. Experts say people tend to measure themselves against others like them. But experts add that if you instead compare yourself to the more physically active people in your age group, and then build up your level of activity slowly and sensibly, you can improve your healthâin some cases, significantly.
9. Thinking about your overall mood today, how do you feel?
e) Worn out
9. Here's how you compare:
Overall, more than half of Americans said they were happyâcompared to far fewer who said energized (7%), stressed (7%), overwhelmed (5%), worn out (4%), sad (2%), or depressed (2%). But hereâs the contrast to focus on: More than two out of three of those who are physically active at least three times a week said they were happy (67% vs. 54% of all Americans).
Hereâs an idea: Get moving and be happy!
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