I hate to alarm you, but it’s true. According to County Health Rankings Martin County ranks 119 out of 120, just above Owsley County, for the worst health rating in the state. County Health Rankings also report that for every 100,000 Martin County residents, 14,182 years of life will be lost before the age of 75. The national average is 5,564, almost 1/3 of our rate! The study also shows that 39% of Martin County residents report their health is less than good.

What causes Martin County to reveal such morbid vital statistics? I’m going to assume factors such as the following attribute:

  • 31% of adults admit to smoking – the national average is only 15%.
  • Adult obesity rate of 35% – the national average is 25%.
  • Excessive drinking, which includes binge drinking and heavy drinking , is 9% – the national average is 8%.
  • Teen birth rate of 72 per 1,000 females between the age of 15 and 19, – the national average is 22 per 1000.

As a county and nation, health wise, we live in an abusive society. Every day we make unwise choices about smoking, drinking, and eating. A lot of times it’s just quicker, easier, and much more convenient to grab something quick from Taco Bell, McDonald’s, or Dairy Queen. Someone else cooks and cleans up, but face it, it’s tough to make healthy choices when it comes to fast food. We struggle choosing the fruit cup over salty, oily fries.

We also neglect silent diseases such as hypertension and high cholesterol. We often skip the annual doctor checkup because we feel perfectly healthy. A regularly scheduled checkup can help find and prevent these silent killers.

How can we change our future and improve our chances of living past the age of 75? The answers are obvious and you’ve heard them all your life, but putting them into practice is tough.

  • Kick those nasty habits. Smoking and excessive drinking take away precious years of your life. They are also thought to cause or attribute to cancer and many other terminal illness.
  • Eat healthier, no one likes to hear the word “diet”, so don’t say it. Just make simple changes to your eating lifestyle and your body will thank you.
  • Sexually active teens should use protection. Not only will this help prevent unwanted teen pregnancy but also help prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Get regular checkups with your physician. Many health conditions can be cured or treated if caught in the early stages.

If you want to live a longer healthier life you may need a major lifestyle makeover. Start your new life this week by scheduling a check-up with your physician. Talk to him/her about what you can do to improve your lifestyle and health in order to enjoy your golden years!