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The answer to leading a happy, healthy and successful life is in the lifestyle. The best way to save money on health care is to remain as healthy as possible. Remaining healthy is up to each individual. There are actions that YOU can take or not take that can accurately predict not only your future healthcare costs but to a large extent how happy, healthy and successful you will be. If you find yourself on the path toward being unhappy, stressed and unhealthy, CHANGE it so you can begin to reap the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.

Studies show that the following six lifestyle choices contribute collectively to over 50 percent of all deaths. This means that you are more in control of your life (and death) than you think.

o SMOKING: Smoking cigarettes, pipes and cigars is one of the worst things you can do for your health. Not only does it increase your chances of developing lung cancer or emphysema, it also contributes to high blood pressure and heart disease. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says cigarette smoking is responsible for 151,322 cancer deaths annually in the United States. Most of those, 116,920 deaths, are from lung cancer. The CDC says that men who smoke are 22 times more likely to die from lung cancer than non-smokers, while women who smoke are 12 times more likely to die from the disease.

o LACK OF EXERCISE: A lack of exercise can lead to obesity, which in turn can lead to diabetes, which in turn can lead to heart disease, peripheral vascular disease, kidney disease and death. More and more Americans are choosing to sit behind a computer screen or in front of a television and munch on unhealthy snacks instead of exercising. Exercise can be as simple as walking or as challenging as kayaking. You can ride a bike, go swimming, join a health club or take up Pilates or yoga. Calories are burned and muscle mass increases when you exercise. Muscle burns more calories than fat so when you have more muscle, you are automatically burning more calories, even when you are not actively exercising.

o POOR EATING HABITS: Americans have some of the poorest eating habits in the world. We are a nation of junk food junkies and the fast food business is thriving. According to a new survey by the Institute of Food Technologists, less than a third of Americans are cooking their evening dinners from scratch, and that there has been a seven percent reduction over the past two years. Although 75 percent of Americans are eating their dinners at home, nearly half those meals are fast food, delivery or takeout from restaurants or grocery delis. In fact, Americans spend more on fast food per year than on education.

· ALCOHOLISM: Every year, more money is spent promoting the use of alcohol than any other product. Perhaps through its elaborate and creative marketing, but the most basic, yet important, fact about alcohol is often overlooked: that alcohol is a drug. It is the most commonly used and widely abused psychoactive drug in the world.

o LACK OF SLEEP: Sleep is an often forgotten commodity. In trying to get in all of our activities each day, sleep is something we frequently cut back on (to the detriment of our health). According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Institute of Medicine (IOM), approximately 30 million Americans are affected by chronic insomnia each year. When we sleep enough, we wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on our daily activities. Sleep affects how we look, feel and perform on a daily basis and can have a major impact on our overall quality of life. Research has shown that its effects on the body are comparable to alcohol.

o DRUGS: Using drugs has the potential to cause addiction, death or other health problems. There are legal drugs a person can use (prescription Oxycontin for example) and scores of illegal drugs like crystal meth, heroin, cocaine, marijuana and Ecstasy. The most common illegal drug used is marijuana, which is not technically addictive, although people have a propensity to use it repetitively. Drug abuse can lead to death from malnutrition, liver disease, overdose and other illnesses. Add to that visits to a doctor for treatment of drug-related illnesses and drug abuse becomes an even more expensive proposition than originally thought. It is estimated that 112,085,000 Americans aged 12 or over (46.1 percent of the US population aged 12 and over) report having used an illicit drug at least once in their lifetimes, and that 35,041,000 Americans aged 12 or over (14.4 percent of the US population aged 12 and over) used an illicit drug during the previous year.

o PROLONGED STRESS: Chronic stress can be caused by several factors, including prolonged illness, a bad job or a failing marriage. In today's society, stress can be unrelenting. Many of us harbor anxiety and worry about daily events and personal relationships. Stress hormones can wash through the body in high levels, never leaving the blood and tissues. And so, the stress response that gave primitive people the speed and endurance to escape from danger still can run constantly through the bodies of people in modern society.

Lifestyle choices are yours to make. For the best life make the right choices.

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Source by Ainat Elos