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Why Should I Live Healthy When Nothing Has Happened?

By Gloria Ufot, Community Health Intern at East Carolina University

Do you believe that living a healthy lifestyle is only applicable when directly faced with an illness or condition? Do you think that engaging in healthy behavior is only necessary when combating pain or sickness? In this post, we are going to tackle common beliefs and misconceptions around this topic. Let’s get started!

“I don’t have a disease or an injury, so I’m healthy right?”

Not quite. As humans, our innate belief is this: if nothing drastic has happened, then I shouldn’t be worried”. And you’re absolutely right, you shouldn’t be worried! But, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t take preventative actions that can potentially help “dodge” those drastic events from occurring. Truth is, many things we face in life, even outside of health, could’ve been avoided in some way. There’s always the famous saying: “you live and you learn”; which yes, is true. But it is also essential and beneficial to learn by educating yourself on things that may not necessarily pertain to you at that point in time. You can also learn through observational learning, and from others’ experiences. So then by using these strategies, you learn what to do and what not to do; which will then maximize your quality of life to it’s fullest potential. The World Health Organization (WHO) said it best when forming their definition of health: “Health is the state of complete physical, mental, and social well being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Notice how the definition mentions mental and social health as well. This shows us that, when considering health, it’s essential to take into account our social interactions/relationships and our mental/emotional well-being. 

Sounds useful right? This is what health education and promotion is all about! Health education and promotion is all about informing the public on healthy behaviors and habits that will not only help you in the future, but also improve where you are now.  

“I’m young so I’ll be alright.”

Sadly, this mindset has led many of our youth to smoking, vaping, overconsumption of alcohol, etc. And by the time they finally have the desire to adopt healthy behavior, yes there is still hope, but it;ll be too late for them to become as healthy as they could’ve been originally. In most cases, diseases and conditions don’t just surface out of the blue; they have slowly progressed and accumulated overtime due to engaging in unhealthy behaviors. Research has even shown that exercise is the most important thing associated with living longer and healthier. You are young and in your prime! You have the power now to choose what your future will hold. You have the full strength, energy, and capacity to explore fun vigorous physical activities, such as: mountain climbing, scuba diving, hiking, kayaking, and more! Use this time to not only improve your future, but the future of those around you. Use your expertise in the social media world to your advantage. Spread the word about what you’re learning through fun graphics and cool videos. 

“If I feel pain, there’s no need for me to exercise. After all, that’s what opioids are used for.”

This is a huge misconception that, unfortunately, many believe. Opioids are an incredible innovation, and it has helped the healthcare field tackle and control many pain in many situations. Howerver in some cases, especially those where opioids are not the only available solution, it can potentially put you on a continuous cycle where you develop a dependence on them. As a result, it becomes your sole response to pain. One of the most interesting things about our bodies is that they are essentially capable of healing themselves. They just need a little extra help; and that help is not only found in opioids. It’s found in improving your eating habits, surrounding yourself with a community, branching out and seeing a counselor if needed, and of course, physical activity. 

“I already know all there is to know about health, so I don’t need to learn more.”

We are living in an ever-changing world. With new trends emerging, comes new health information and findings. Continuous learning is key with staying on top of all the new health information and trends. Now you’re probably thinking, “ugh, more learning? Gross.”; but learning doesn’t have to be boring! As times progresses, the amount of creativity increases also; and it’s all at your fingertips. For traditional learners, there are: scholarly articles, newspapers, and endless books. But for the modern-style learners, there are: infographics, blogs, creative videos, and even social media. The healthcare industry is now starting to grasp the true power of social media and creative learning. They are starting to use platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and even Tik Tok, to transform chunks of health information into short messages that attract the eye. Find which learning tool and technique that works best for you and grow with that.

Don’t just settle with living life “going with the flow, or just simply by the basics. Be innovative. Brainstorm different ways in which you’re not only physically active, but becoming active with your learning as well.