With Thanksgiving around the corner, a new study finds Four State residents among the unhealthiest in the US
(KSNF/KODE) – The holiday season is officially here. It’s a time of celebration, relaxation, and spending time with loved ones, but it’s also the time when many Americans “get out of hand” when it comes to their health.
Whether it’s extra eating and drinking, stress peaks or accidents and exposure to germs while traveling, government studies have shown that emergency room visits increase during the holiday season, with New York City doctors estimating a 5% to 12% increase. According to a study in the Journal of the American Heart Association, vacation heart attacks are real and lead to a 4% increase in heart-related deaths.
In addition to dangerous holiday behavior, preventive behavior such as exercise and healthy eating is also decreasing. To determine which states are the healthiest in terms of keeping their bodies and minds healthy as we head into the holiday season, Lifeextension.com (a website providing information about the science of health and wellness) analyzed data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The results show that while Americans in some states maintain healthy habits year-round, others are less likely to do so — and therefore at higher risk of heart disease and mental health problems.
Best and worst states
Fortunately, most Americans say their overall health is either good, very good, or excellent: 79% in Kentucky feel confident about their health, while up to 88.8% in New Hampshire and Hawaii consider themselves healthy. However, if you look at individual health habits and the occurrence of physical and mental illnesses, the numbers speak a different language, especially during the holidays.
For the average of all health factors, Utah tops the list, followed by Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Maryland. In these top states, adults tend to exercise, have low rates of heart disease and smoking, and report overall good health.
In contrast, states like Arkansas, Oklahoma and Missouri ended up at the bottom of the list. The reasons: Lower exercise rate, high proportion of smokers and poor nutrition compared to other federal states. Below-average rates of heavy drinking also contributed to the four-state region’s underperforming, according to CDC data.
6 health tips for the holidays
Stress, travel, and traditionally big meals are some common obstacles to staying healthy during the holidays — but with a little extra planning, you can prioritize your family’s well-being throughout the holiday season and beyond. Here are six holiday health tips from lifeextension.com.
- Enjoy the flavors of the season, but to avoid weight gain and/or bloating after a large meal, watch your portions. Also, consider swapping out decadent dishes for ones that are considered healthier. For example, oatmeal instead of sugar cookies or mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes.
- DO NOT skip Thanksgiving turkey because you think it will make you tired – that’s a myth! In fact, the tryptophan in turkey offers several health benefits, especially when it comes to mood.
- Enjoy Thanksgiving leftovers, especially these 10 Healthy Turkey Options.
- Don’t take a break during the holidays – keep your immune system strong by taking echinacea (coneflower).
- Don’t let the stress get the better of you (it’s often easier said than done during this busy time of year).
- Don’t skimp on sleep. If you’re struggling to drift off to dreamland because you’re worrying about your to-do list, melatonin can help — just make sure you’re taking the right amount.
For more information from lifeextension.com’s Holiday Health Study, click HERE.
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