We’re Flunking In a BIG Way on the Four Markers of a Healthy Lifestyle


Thanks to a new study out of the University of Oregon and the University of Mississippi, researchers have been able to confirm what many of us already suspected: we’re not healthy in the USA.

Researchers took four markers of a healthy lifestyle: a healthy diet, moderate exercise, being a non-smoker and recommended percentage of fat. None of these are extraordinary or unreasonable. They make sense. They’re not crazy or a big ask. So imagine our surprise when we saw that only 2.7% of the US adult population has all four markers. Wow.

Here’s how things broke out:

  • There were 4745 participants.
  • Rather than relying solely on self-reporting, the researchers were able to measure behavior by using accelerometers, blood samples, and x-ray absorptiometry.
  • ONLY 2.7 percent of participants had all four markers of a healthy lifestyle.
  • 16 percent had three markers of a healthy lifestyle.
  • 37 percent had two markers.
  • 34 percent had one marker.
  • A whopping 11 percent had NO markers of a healthy lifestyle.
  • Men were more likely to be active than women, but women were more likely be be non-smokers and have a healthy diet.

The study also linked the markers of a healthy lifestyle to cardiovascular health, and not surprising, having more markers means a greater likelihood of cardiovascular health.

So what are we to do with this information? We all know we should eat well, exercise, not smoke, and not be overweight. So why are the vast majority of us having such a hard time reaching such seemingly do-able goals? And for those of us in the 2.7%, what helped us figure it out?

Whether it’s fast food, video games, television, poverty, lack of education, the shift to double-income families, the 40-hour work week, marketing to children, obsessive behaviors, or a combination and interplay of complex factors, clearly something needs to be done. And clearly we need to worry about the future as it appears the current generation of teenagers might be even less active and less healthy than its predecessors.

Massage therapists are obviously in the world of making people healthy. Do you think we have a role to play in people’s overall health? How can we make an impact with the four markers of health?