Modern Lifestyle — How healthy are we?

Modern Lifestyle and Its Impact On Health

Modern technology has revolutionized health sciences over the last few decades. So the life expectancy has increased dramatically in the modern world and people are living longer than before. However, this increase in life expectancy did not come with a corresponding increase in quality of life.

“Living longer doesn’t mean we are living healthier …years are being added to our lives, life is not being added to our years”

Even though we are living longer than ever before, yet an increasing number of people are becoming chronically ill. Many of these chronic conditions are linked to lifestyle factors such as overweight/obesity, insufficient physical activity, tobacco, and alcohol use. Of these chronic conditions, many of them, such as cardiovascular diseases, some cancers, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and diabetes are impacted negatively by our 21st Century lifestyle.

Life in the 21st Century – Impact of Technology on Lifestyle

Becoming an inevitable part of our everyday lives, we have grown too dependent on technology than ever before and consequently, our lifestyles have changed much over the last few decades. It is without a doubt that technological advancements have transformed the human race, but at the same time, it can be the biggest threat to our very own existence.

”Information technology and the Internet are rapidly transforming almost every aspect of our lives – some for better, some for worse.” — John Landgraf

Technology has been proven to have a large impact on people’s lifestyle and health, let us have a look at how technology has changed the way we live, work and relax.

Work and Leisure Activities: A couple of generations ago, most people were naturally active, working hard physically to accomplish their daily chores. Today, we hardly need to use our muscles, as we are getting things done, literally, at the push of a button. We have become exceedingly dependent on technology – from simple little things to more complicated tasks. We hardly walk – as we use mechanized transportation, even for short distances and use elevators/escalator instead of stairs.

With automation, machines doing the hard labor, there has been a large shift from manual labor jobs to desk jobs and people are sitting down most of the time, living a more sedentary lifestyle. Moreover, today’s job is highly demanding which makes us work for long hours, leaving little time for any physical activity.

sedentary_modern lifestyle
Evolution: Active Lifestyle to Sedentary Lifestyle

Another major concern is the technology addiction – people are glued to their smartphones, gaming devices, social media, and television. People all over the world, regardless of age or gender, are spending large amounts of time in front of screens.

Gaming_modern lifestyle
Video Game Addiction

Move your Body (Human Body Needs to Move):

Professor David Dunstan, Head of the Physical Activity Laboratory at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne and a Senior Researcher, says that the human body evolved to move, not sit still for extended periods of time. So sitting in front of a TV or a computer screen for too long poses serious risks to health, and to life. “What has happened is that a lot of the normal activities of daily living that involved standing up and moving the muscles in the body have been converted to sitting”.

Simply, with the advent of technology, people don’t use their muscles as much as they used to. Without physical activity, the human body cannot function in its optimal way. Our relative inactivity has resulted in overweight/obesity and various other chronic health problems. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), insufficient physical activity is a key risk factor for Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and diabetes and it is also one of the leading risk factors for death worldwide.

Unhealthy Diet/Food Choices: The next most important thing is the change in our food habits. Over the last century, our food habits have changed dramatically, instead of natural and whole food, the intake of processed and fast food is increasing worldwide. In this fast-paced lifestyle, there is little or no time to cook and hence families resort to buying these highly processed foods because these are inexpensive and easy to prepare.

More Junk Than Food:  Fast foods which tend to be high in saturated fat, sugar, salt, and calories, with little or no nutritional value — are implicated in poor health and various chronic health issues such as cardiovascular diseases, obesity, stroke, colorectal cancer, and depression. People who eat a high-calorie diet without sufficient exercise are in colossal danger of lifestyle disorders.

modern lifestyle_junk foods
High Calorie Foods

Modern Lifestyle – How healthy are we?

Many of us are living with at least one chronic condition, which can significantly undermine the quality of our lives. Nearly half of the adult population was reported to have limited activities due to at least one chronic disease or disability. The modern lifestyle characterized by physical inactivity, unhealthy diet along with tobacco and alcohol use has given rise to increased prevalence of, what is called, Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). NCDs are the leading causes of death and disability globally, killing more than 40 million people worldwide. The major NCDs responsible for these deaths include cardiovascular diseases; cancers; chronic respiratory diseases; and diabetes.

Quick Facts About NCDs – WHO

  • Four common, preventable risk factors underlie most NCDs – tobacco use, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, and the harmful use of alcohol that lead to four key metabolic changes – raised blood pressure, overweight/obesity, raised blood glucose and raised cholesterol.
  • NCDs kill 41 million people each year, equivalent to 71% of all deaths globally. Cardiovascular diseases account for most NCD deaths, 17.9 million people annually, followed by cancers (9.0 million), respiratory diseases (3.9 million), and diabetes (1.6 million).
  • These 4 groups of diseases alone are responsible for the death of 32.4 million people each year, nearly 60% of all deaths globally.
  • Control and prevention:An important way of controlling NCDs is by controlling the risk factors associated with it. In other words, modifying dietary habits and changing lifestyle-risk aspects could prevent most cases of cardiovascular disorders, stroke, diabetes and many types of cancers.

Health is often taken for granted

“Time and health are two precious assets that we don’t recognize and appreciate until they have been depleted.” — Denis Waitley

Although healthy lifestyle methods are now easily achievable with appropriate interventions, like nutritional counseling, exercise training, de-addiction programs, regular medical checkups, and stress management techniques. We generally ignore or are reluctant to either start or maintain these appropriate healthy behaviors and health continues to be a neglected entity at the individual level. Each individual’s health is, to a great extent, his own responsibility. And health is often taken for granted, and its value is not totally understood until it is too late.

Health is the wealth of wealth:

“Health is a man’s greatest wealth; he who has health must cherish it with care, lest he should lose it”. Lifestyle changes have compelled us so much that one has so little time to really think about one’s health, whereas other requirements such as wealth, power, fame, knowledge, etc.., are considered to be more significant than health.

“The Best investment you can ever make is in your Own Health” – chronic diseases are the most expensive to treat, adopting a healthier lifestyle can reduce, the rising cost of health care, nearly by half compared with an unhealthy lifestyle. So many people spend their health gaining wealth, and then have to spend their wealth to regain their health (A.J.Reb Materi). He who enjoys good health is rich (Proverb). People who risk their health to earn riches, sooner or later, will realize the bitter truth… that health is the wealth of wealth.

A wise person once said “Man surprises me most about humanity. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”

The foundation of success in life is good health, that is the substratum fortune; it is also the basis of happiness (P. T. Barnum). Running after money we never really live. Benefits of a healthy lifestyle are innumerable; reduces the risk of certain diseases and the associated disability, helps to maintain weight and BMI, improves your physical appearance and mental health and keeps you energetic all day; these are just a few among the many.

Bad habits are hard to break, Healthy habits are hard to develop

“I know a man who gave up smoking, drinking, sex, and rich food. He was healthy right up to the day he killed himself.” — Johnny Carson

What sounds more fun- running a mile or sitting and watching your favorite TV show with a bag of chips and coke? After all, we’re only human, despite trying our best, at times we do fall. Sticking to a healthy lifestyle can be difficult but not impossible. But once you embrace a healthier lifestyle, you won’t regret this decision. The most important thing is to KEEP TRYING.

And it’s never too early or too late to work towards being the healthiest you, those who have an enthusiasm and interest in life, stay young – no matter how ‘old’ they get. It is these people who often stay the healthiest and live the longest too.

“Your body is your most priceless possession…so go take care of it!” – Jack LaLane

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