STAY HEALTHY By Su Clauson-Wicker
Did you know that 50 percent of what makes us healthy is our own health behavior?
Or that 88 percent of the money we spend on health is for medical services— often to counteract the effects of an unhealthy lifestyle—and only 4 percent is spent on healthy behaviors such as exercising, eating nutritious food, and pursuing healthy habits? If you look at everything that goes into determining whether you will be healthy or not, including genetics, environment, even access to health care, it turns out that good personal health behaviors far outrank all else in keeping you well. In fact, healthy practices such as exercising, eating well, and avoiding tobacco and drugs account for a full 50 percent of your health, while your heredity and environment account for only 20 percent each, and access to health care a mere 10 percent, according to a national health promotion initiative called Healthy People 2020. 12 FALL 2015 | CarilionClinic.org
“How people live, the choices they make in their daily lives, is the biggest factor in whether they’re healthy or not,” says Shirley Holland, Carilion Clinic vice president of community outreach. “It’s the main social determinant of health— each of us taking responsibility for our own wellness.” WHAT IS A HEALTHY COMMUNITY?
Carilion takes its mission of improving the health of the community seriously, Holland says. With its community partners, it has been exploring such questions as: What can we do in western Virginia to improve the health of our communities? And: What level of health should we aspire to? With its partners, Carilion has been conducting ongoing community health needs assessments and getting involved in helping people establish habits that will help them stay healthy. This year, health needs assessments were conducted in the Roanoke Valley,
the Rockbridge area, and Giles County. Those surveyed—low-income and chronically ill people without adequate medical insurance—indicated what they felt prevented them and their neighbors from being healthy. As in previous surveys in 2012, residents said they had difficulty accessing primary care, dentistry, and mental health/substance abuse services, says Aaron Boush, Carilion manager of community outreach. They also reported eating fewer than one fresh or frozen vegetable per day. Almost half said they were physically active an hour per week or less. Troubling information, yes. But progress has been made. Since 2012, Carilion has collaborated with the United Way of Roanoke Valley and others to create the Healthy Roanoke Valley community partnership, representing more than 50 agencies, schools, and organizations. Their goals are to improve the general wellness of underserved community res-
Carilion Clinic Living is dedicated to promoting good health and quality of life in our community.