Unlocking health and wellness in our community and at home starts by figuring out what we do well and what needs improvement. Statistics and facts help us to begin the process of discussing the best way to implement a health-facing, upstream path for health for individuals and the community – out of the “sickcare” model of tertiary care and into the business of prevention and health promotion.
County Health Rankings (www.countyhealthrankings.org) has a goal of “building a culture of health, county by county”. It releases an annual report indicating how healthy your county is based on a number of metrics.
Here are overall rankings for Hillsborough County (where I am based) for 2018:
- Out of 10 NH counties, Hillsborough ranks as the 4th healthiest overall.
- Quality of life is ranked 4th.
- Health factors is ranked 5th
Hillsborough County ranks 4th in health
Source: County Rankings
WHAT NEEDS WORK
From 10,000 feet, our county is quite healthy…but there is ALWAYS room for improvement. Diving into the statistics a little more identifies some key areas where we can improve.
MOVE: physical activity and exercise
- Physical activity provides not only physical benefits, but also mental and emotional ones.
- While 87% of the population has access to exercise opportunities (compared to 82% of NH), 21% of adults 20 years or older report no leisure time physical activity.
FUEL: nutrition and hydration
- You cannot outrun a bad diet. Poor nutritional choices affect your ability to fuel daily tasks.
- The food environment index measures “availability of economical, close, and nutritious food options in a community”. Hillsborough county scored a 8.5/10 (with 10 being the highest grade given).
- While this a relatively high score, 10% of the county still deals with food insecurity and 6% have limited access to healthy foods.
RECOVER: rest and recovery
- Rest and recovery is imperative to overall health.
- 33% of the county’s population has insufficient sleep. Insufficient sleep is defined as 7 hours of sleep or less on average. It is likely that the percentage of those who have uninterrupted sleep is much higher.
ENDURE: resiliency in the face of obstacles, stable stress rating
- The ability to persevere is a good indication of overall health.
- 10% of the populace felt that they had frequent physical distress. This is defined as greater than or equal to 14 days per month where physical health or injury affected their overall health.
- 11% of the populace felt that they had frequent mental distress. This is defined as greater than or equal to 14 days per month where stress, depression, and problem with emotions affected their mental health.
CONNECT: social and emotional health
- Poor family support, minimal contact with others at or outside work, and limited involvement in the community are associated with increased risk for illness and early death.
- Hillsborough has the third worst social association metric in the state of New Hampshire!
HOW WE CAN IMPROVE
“Start small, be consistent”
- MOVE: Ensure you are engaging in recreational physical activity 3-5 days per week for a total of 150 minutes is a great guideline. Slowly build up to this level and choose activities you enjoy – walking, jogging, hiking, biking, swimming are all great choices!
- FUEL: Drink plenty of water/tea/coffee, avoid sodas, and the majority of your food should be plant based. This doesn’t mean avoiding your favorite foods, just be smart about it!
- RECOVER: Get 6-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Avoid blue light (electronics) before bed. Stay hydrated but do not drink too close to bedtime to avoid waking to urinate. Meditate and take mental breaks throughout the day.
- ENDURE: be consistent with your health improvements and you will be able to endure many challenges throughout your day. Use the buddy system to help keep you on track.
- CONNECT: Spend time with family and friends. Have conversations with co-workers about non-work related things (yes, the weather really is a good conversation starter!). Find ways to increase connections with people in whatever way you are comfortable with.
If you want to learn more about how we can help develop your individualized wellness plan, reach out to me via email!
Stronger people, healthier lifestyles!