What comes to mind when you think of taking risks with your health – driving recklessly, or maybe abusing alcohol or illegal drugs? Those behaviors are very risky but many people have less dramatic behaviors that are just as dangerous in the long run. Tobacco use, unbalanced nutrition and a lack of physical activity are some of the key risk factors for the most common causes of death.

The top 10 causes of death include:

  1. Heart disease
  2. Cancer
  3. Stroke
  4. Chronic lower respiratory disease
  5. Accidents (usually involving alcohol)
  6. Diabetes
  7. Flu and pneumonia
  8. Alzheimer’s disease
  9. Kidney disease
  10. Infection

It is true that things like heart disease, stroke and some kinds of cancer tend to occur in people who have a family history of the disease. However, one’s genes are only part of your risk for these diseases. In many cases your behavior is at least as important to your health as your family history. If you choose unhealthy behaviors you are at greater risk of having serious health problems.

The following are three important things you can do to reduce your risk:

  • Quit smoking, or don’t start
  • Eat fewer high-fat foods and more fruits and vegetables
  • Be more physically active

You are more likely to make changes in your habits if you set a specific goal for yourself. Set a goal that focuses on a specific behavior. This type of goal is easier to think about and plan for. Once your new healthy behavior becomes a habit, you can move on to another goal.

Sometimes, we can be addicted to things that seem harmless. It is those harmless habits, done in excess that can adversely affect our health. These patters affect our lifestyles by draining our energy and get in the way of leading a fulfilling life for ourselves. Often times we choose consciously or unconsciously to adapt these habits as a way to escape from our uncomfortable feelings. Soft addictions can give us a short temporary emotional high or a numbing of our feelings. Soft addictions may include:

  • Watching TV
  • Social networking
  • Emailing
  • Drinking coffee
  • Shopping
  • Mindless snacking

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