The basic tenets of a healthy lifestyle are common sense: exercise regularly, eat a balanced diet, don’t smoke and keep body fat percentage under a certain level.
But a new study published last month in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings shows that less than 3 percent of American adults live in a way that meets all four of those criteria.
About 11 percent of the study’s participants had none of those qualities — even though they have been shown to play a key role in reducing heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and some cancers.
Things are not much different for University of Minnesota students, according to a 2015 Boynton Health Service survey.
Here, only 86.6 percent of students are nonsmokers, and less than 60 percent report meeting the recommended level of daily physical activity. Only one in five students eats more than five fruits or vegetables each day, and the body mass index would categorize nearly one in three as overweight, obese or extremely obese.
Between jam-packed days, nights filled with cramming or partying, the cheap comfort of junk food and the ease of eating out, college students often consider their unhealthy lifestyles as acceptable and temporary. But the habits we adopt now will shape the lifestyles we lead for decades.
We urge students to take a long and holistic look at their daily habits, and we encourage them to make the easy changes necessary to counter current trends and meet the four criteria for healthful living.