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Have your 'ACE in the whole' in the game of life

Build a strong foundation to avoid gambling with your health

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[April 09, 2009]  SPRINGFIELD Celebrating National Public Health Week, the Illinois Department of Public Health wants to teach all Illinoisans how to have an "ACE in the whole" for leading a healthy life.

"ACE -- activity, checkups and eating healthy. Making sure you stay active by walking, biking or some other physical activity; getting regular checkups from your doctor; and eating healthy help you achieve whole-body health," said Dr. Arnold, director of the Department of Public Health. "In the game of life, you don't want to gamble with your health. Your ace in the hole, or winning card, to help you win the game and live a longer, healthier life is activity, checkups and eating healthy."

This year's theme for National Public Health Week, April 6-12, is "Building the Foundation for a Healthy America." According to the American Public Health Association, although we spend more on health care than any other nation, our nation is falling behind in many important measures of what it means to be healthy:

  • U.S. life expectancy has reached a record high of 78.1 years but still ranks 46th -- behind Japan and most of Europe, as well as countries such as Guam, South Korea and Jordan.

  • We're among the top 10 countries that have the most people with HIV/AIDS, and it is estimated that one in 20 residents in the nation's capital are HIV-positive.

  • Disparities persist, with ethnic minority populations having nearly eight times the death rate of non-minority populations for key health conditions, such as diabetes.

"Three important building blocks in the foundation for a healthier America include physical activity, healthy eating and getting regular checkups," Arnold said.

The recently released physical activity guidelines for Americans recommend at least 2 1/2 hours of physical activity every week.

Physical activity helps to:

  • Maintain weight.

  • Reduce high blood pressure.

  • Reduce risk for Type 2 diabetes, heart attack, stroke and several forms of cancer.

  • Reduce arthritis pain and associated disability.

  • Reduce risk for osteoporosis and falls.

  • Reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.

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The same diseases can also be brought on by poor eating habits. According to the dietary guidelines for Americans, a healthy eating plan:

  • Emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products.

  • Includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts.

  • Is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium) and added sugars.

  • Stays within your daily calorie needs.

"Staying active and eating healthy are important, but you also need to make sure you go in for checkups," Arnold said. "Regular health exams and tests can help find problems before they start. They also can help find problems early, when your chances for treatment and cure are better. By going in for regular screenings and treatments, you are taking steps that help your chances for living a longer, healthier life. Remember your 'ACE in the Whole' in the game of life -- activity, checkups and eating healthy lead to whole-body health."

[Text from Illinois Department of Public Health file received from the Illinois Office of Communication and Information]

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