Quiz: How Well Are You Preventing Illness?

Part 4 of our 8-part series: Take this fun quiz, and learn the Secrets of Healthy Americans, based on our national poll. And be sure to download our free Secrets of Healthy Americans reports at the end of this quiz.


Humana and Reader’s Digest polled the nation to bring you the Secrets of Healthy Americans, and we’re 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 Reader’s Digest Healthy Habits Survey 2012—and 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.

Have you had a flu shot within the past year?

a) Yes 

b) No 

Here's how you compare:

Our Healthy Habits Survey shows that only half of all Americans (56 percent) have had a flu shot in the past year—and nearly one-third of Americans (29 percent) have never had one. Without one, you are in danger of potentially life-threatening complications of flu. 


Here’s an idea: Not only should you get vaccinated, but you can make other moves to further decrease your risk of getting the flu. For example, flu season is at its peak in the winter. That’s also the season for holiday travel, but try to avoid flying. Exposure to airport crowds and germs on airplane surfaces—plus hours spent in close quarters—can boost your likelihood of catching the flu bug. 

If you live in a cold-weather climate, it can be challenging to exercise outdoors during peak flu season. But medical research has shown that people who exercise regularly have fewer flu symptoms and higher levels of flu-fighting immunoglobulin A in their blood streams, compared to people who don’t exercise. So don’t stop your physical activity. Instead, if it’s too uncomfortable for you to exercise outside, work up an indoor exercise routine, such as walking on a treadmill or aerobic dancing.

When did you have your last general physical check-up?

a) within the last 6 months
b) within the last year
c) 2 to 5 years ago
d) more than 5 years ago

Here's how you compare:

Nearly half of Americans (49 percent) have had a physical within the last 6 months. Another 28 percent have had one within the last year. So, that’s 77 percent who are doing the smart thing.

Here’s an idea
: it’s also important for your doctor to give you regular tests that can save your life. These include screenings for blood pressure, diabetes, and colon cancer. What’s going on inside your body isn’t always obvious. That’s why you need to get the medical tests that can spot a health threat before it becomes a major problem.

If you don’t get medical attention when you need it, what's the reason?

a) You hope you will feel better soon 

b) It is too costly
c) You are too busy

Here's how you compare:

A full 44 percent of people surveyed say they do not get medical attention because they hope they will feel better soon. Nearly 1 in 10 (12 percent) say they don’t get medical attention because it is too costly.

Here’s an idea
: It’s important to know symptoms you must never ignore. These include:
 ● Squeezing, tightening pain in the chest, possibly radiating to the jaws, back, or teeth (could be a heart attack)
Sudden confusion, possibly accompanied by blurred vision, slurred speech, sudden numbness on one side of the body, or sudden severe headache (could be a stroke)
Sudden pain around your navel, possibly accompanied by nausea, fever, or vomiting (could be a sign of appendicitis)
Sudden abdominal pain accompanied by bloody diarrhea, blood in the stool, or vomiting blood (could be internal bleeding)

Do you smoke?

a) I am a daily smoker
b) I am an occasional smoker

Here’s how you compare:

Only 11 percent of Americans say they are daily smokers. And only 3 percent describe themselves as occasional smokers. For a multitude of reasons, including increasing your risk of heart disease and cancer, smoking is probably the most dangerous health habit you can have.

Here’s an idea
: If you are a smoker, you of course should stop. You’ll increase your chances for success by getting help from:

Nicotine replacement products like chewing gums or patches
Counseling (ask your doctor for a referral)
Prescription medication
Telephone quit lines (you can find a quit line in your area by going online at naquitline.org)

What's your smoking history?

a) I'm a former smoker

b) I've never smoked

Here’s how you compare:

Almost a quarter of Americans (22 percent) are former smokers. More than half (58 percent) are fortunate to say they’ve never smoked. If you are a former smoker, your risks of related disease begin decreasing shortly after quitting. But the full benefits can take years to kick in.

Here’s an idea: If you take certain steps, you can cut down the time it takes to eliminate the risk of disease caused by your smoking years. They include:
Avoid secondhand smoke. That’s the biggest preventive step a former smoker can take, say Harvard Medical School experts. Secondhand smoke nearly doubles your odds for a heart attack—and can be even more risky for former smokers whose lungs and cardiovascular systems are still recovering.
Eat lots of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. They are loaded with antioxidants that help protect against heart disease and stroke.
Keep careful track of your lung health. Stay alert for signs of lung problems, such as persistent coughing, shortness of breath, and chest pain. Tell your doctor right away if you have any lung problems.

Do you consider yourself overweight?

a) Yes
b) No

Here’s how you compare:

More than half (53 percent) of Americans say they are overweight. And more than a quarter (27 percent) of overweight Americans say they are 50 pounds or more overweight. Being overweight is dangerous. It can increase your risk of many illnesses. They include diabetes, heart disease and stroke, sleep apnea, and cancers of the colon, breast, uterine and the kidney, among others.

Here’s an idea
: Nearly a third (29 percent) of Americans say that the last time they tried to lose weight they were successful, but they gained the weight back. One problem may be that they tried extreme diet regimens rather than making choices that lead to permanent weight control

 Here are 3 steps toward success:
Think lifestyle change, not short-term diet. Begin working small changes, such as eating more produce and walking 30 minutes, into your daily schedule. Go slow. Aim to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week.
Get support. Seek out encouragement from family, friends, or a support group.
Track your progress. Note each pound you lose in a journal. Seeing a record of your success will help you stay motivated.

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