Leading a healthy lifestyle tops many Americans lists of New Years resolutions. But exactly what defines good health? As calendars will soon be turning to 2013, Health Net, Inc. (NYSE: HNT) is sharing several important questions and answers that should be reviewed before embarking on any health-improvement program.
We all want to be healthy, but what does being in good health actually mean, and how do we know what we should be doing to achieve that goal? asks Jonathan Scheff, M.D., chief medical officer for Health Net. The answers arent always that simple, he adds, and each of us may need help in finding the health formula that fits our individual needs.
Consider these Questions
To assist with navigating your way to a healthier 2013, Managed Health Network, Inc. (MHN), the behavioral health services subsidiary of Health Net, Inc., has developed the following list of important health questions and answers:
- How much should I weigh? Theres no question that being overweight is unhealthy. In fact, obesity has long been connected with several serious conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, some cancers and stroke. Determining if your weight falls into the unhealthy category, however, isnt simply a matter of standing on the scale. Thats because a variety of factors figure into the equation; for example, while muscle is preferable to fat, muscle weighs more than fat. So the number that shows on a scale doesnt necessarily answer the question: How much should I weigh? To help answer that question, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers guidelines.
Specifically, the CDC says that a waist size of more than 40 inches for a man, and 35 inches for a non-pregnant woman, is an indication of being overweight and at risk for obesity-related illnesses. Your body mass index (BMI), a ratio based on your weight and height, is a more precise measure of whether youre at a healthy weight. The CDC provides a BMI calculator at this link: http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/healthyweight/assessing/index.htm.
- How hard do I need to physically push myself in order to get fit? Generally speaking, a slow, steady heartbeat is associated with good health. While a physician can draw some conclusions about your health by listening to your heart, taking your pulse wont yield extensive information. If youve established an exercise routine thats designed to improve your level of fitness, however, using your target heart rate does provide a measure of whether youre doing enough to reach your goal. (It should be noted that, prior to starting any exercise program, its important to first consult a physician.) Its also important to note that, while your target heart rate is based on a percentage of your maximum heart rate, reaching that maximum is not the goal. In fact, a heart rate of 50 to 85 percent of your maximum indicates youre exerting yourself enough to become more fit. To calculate a rough estimate of your maximum heart rate, take the number 220 and subtract your age. Certain online resources offer more precise target-heart-rate ranges, such as the following: http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/healthtool-target-heart-rate-calculator.
- Should I switch from cigarettes to a safer tobacco? It has been medically and scientifically proven that tobacco use leaves in its wake a host of negative health consequences. Despite this longstanding fact, rationalizations, along with downright myths, abound about cigarettes and other tobacco products. People claim that there are safer ways of smoking, such as not inhaling, switching to light or low-tar brands, or hand-rolling their own cigarettes. Cigars are often touted as a healthier alternative to cigarettes, as are smokeless tobacco products. As the American Cancer Society unequivocally states, the bottom line is: All tobacco products damage your health and quitting all such products is the smartest step that any smoker can take. If you want to take that smart step, a good place to start is by visiting http://www.cancer.org/healthy/index and talking to your physician.
- Am I suffering from a mental illness? As a general rule, people tend to focus on their physical health versus their mental/emotional health. The reality, however, is that all components — physical, mental and emotional — are equally important to achieving good overall health. As a starting point in assessing your mental health, consider this definition provided by the U.S. Surgeon Generals office: Mental health is the successful performance of mental function, resulting in productive activities, fulfilling relationships with other people, and the ability to adapt to change and to cope with adversity. In contrast, the U.S. Surgeon Generals office describes mental illness as all diagnosable mental disorders, which are health conditions characterized by alteration in thinking, mood, or behavior (or some combination thereof) associated with distress and/or impaired functioning. Central to both of these descriptions is ones ability to function. Specifically, if you feel that mental or emotional issues may be preventing you from successfully navigating daily life for an extended period, professional help may be warranted, and you should consult with your physician. If your employer offers an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), thats certainly another good resource; or visit http://www.nmha.org for some additional information.
Aim for the Achievable
Looking ahead to 2013, Scheff cautions, Be reasonable in your goals and dont set the bar too high. For example, dont say youre going to run a marathon. First commit to simply exercising three times a week. You can always increase your goal.
Medical Advice Disclaimer
The information provided is not intended as medical advice or as a substitute for professional medical care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other health provider for any questions you may have regarding your medical condition and follow your health care providers instructions.
About Health Net
Health Net, Inc. is a publicly traded managed care organization that delivers managed health care services through health plans and government-sponsored managed care plans. Its mission is to help people be healthy, secure and comfortable. Health Net, through its subsidiaries, provides and administers health benefits to approximately 5.4 million individuals across the country through group, individual, Medicare (including the Medicare prescription drug benefit commonly referred to as Part D), Medicaid, U.S. Department of Defense, including TRICARE, and Veterans Affairs programs. Health Nets behavioral health services subsidiary, Managed Health Network, Inc., provides behavioral health, substance abuse and employee assistance programs to approximately 4.9 million individuals, including Health Nets own health plan members. Health Nets subsidiaries also offer managed health care products related to prescription drugs, and offer managed health care product coordination for multi-region employers and administrative services for medical groups and self-funded benefits programs.
For more information on Health Net, Inc., please visit Health Nets website at www.healthnet.com.
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