Short-Term Pain for Long-Term Health Gain

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Getting healthy when you’re young can pay off down the road.Here’s some health advice intended to help you with your New Year’s resolutions: value the future. While it’s important to live for today and seize the moment, when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle, keeping an eye on the future may be the best way to keep you motivated and achieving your health goals.

Researchers at the West Virginia University School of Medicine noted that previous studies have shown a negative association between how you see your future and the risk for indulging in harmful, addictive behaviors. Or, to put it another way, we tend to live in a culture that promotes short-term rewards over long-term gains.

The Virginia research team just conducted a study to examine the association between how a person values the future and their diet and physical activity behaviors. Specifically, they wanted to know if valuing the future had any positive impact on coronary heart disease risk (CHD).

For their study, the researchers conducted an online survey in 172 adults with no prior history of CHD. The participants were asked how they perceived their future health, as well as questions about their coronary heart disease knowledge, perceived risk, perceived severity, perceived benefits of and barriers to behavior change, and diet and physical activity behaviors.

The researchers found that holding a high value of the future was associated with younger age, lower body mass index (BMI), a more healthful diet, and increased physical activity.

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Those most likely to follow a healthful diet included females, older adults, and those with an education greater than high school. Significant predictors of physical activity level included income between $20,000 and $69,999. The researchers concluded that there is a link between adopting behaviors to prevent coronary heart disease and valuing the future.

Try to focus on the long-term benefits of healthy lifestyle choices. Heed the researchers’ findings in these areas: try to earn enough money to make you comfortable, keep learning by taking courses, and treat your body in a healthy way today so that it doesn’t cause you problems tomorrow.

Sources for Today’s Articles:
Short-Term Pain for Long-Term Health Gain
Garza, K.B., et al., “Examination of value of the future and health beliefs to explain dietary and physical activity behaviors,” Res Social Adm Pharm. December 31, 2012.