12/26/2012 11:48 am ET Updated Feb 25, 2013

Make Your New Years Resolution Prehabilitation

One in 2 Americans is coping with a chronic disease, and many require rehabilitation. That's why I'm suggesting this year your New Year's resolution be "prehabilitation," a term defined by Wikipedia as, "a form of strength training, aims to prevent injuries before the actual occurrence."

What a great idea -- fix it before it is broken. Especially since we live in a country where, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), "7 out of 10 deaths among Americans each year are from chronic diseases" -- many of which are preventable -- and in 2005, "almost 1 out of every 2 adults had at least one chronic illness."

Here is the "what" from the CDC's breakdown of health problems in the U.S.:

• Obesity has become a major health concern. 1 in every 3 adults is obese and almost 1 in 5 youth between the ages of 6 and 19 is obese (BMI ≥ 95th percentile of the CDC growth chart).

• About one-fourth of people with chronic conditions have one or more daily activity limitations.

• Arthritis is the most common cause of disability, with nearly 19 million Americans reporting activity limitations.

Diabetes continues to be the leading cause of kidney failure, nontraumatic lower-extremity amputations, and blindness among adults, aged 20-74.

• Excessive alcohol consumption is the third leading preventable cause of death in the U.S., behind diet and physical activity and tobacco.

Also according to the CDC, 26 million adults currently have diabetes and 79 million have prediabetes, a condition where the blood sugar is elevated but not high enough to be diabetes.

Here's the "why" that prehabilitation would prevent through behavior modification:

• More than one-third of all adults do not meet recommendations for aerobic physical activity based on the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, and 23 percent report no leisure-time physical activity at all in the preceding month.

• In 2007, less than 22 percent of high school students and only 24 percent of adults reported eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

• More than 43 million American adults (approximately 1 in 5) smoke ... In 2007, 20 percent of high school students in the United States were current cigarette smokers ... Compared to nonsmokers, men who smoke are about 23 times more likely to develop lung cancer and women who smoke are about 13 times more likely.

• Binge drinking, the most dangerous pattern of drinking (defined as consuming more than four drinks on an occasion for women or five drinks for men) is reported by 17 percent of U.S. adults, averaging eight drinks per binge.

Here are 11 prehabilitation tips for the new year to tell you "how":

1. The Affordable Care Act is encouraging work places to provide wellness centers. Take advantage of them. Yoga or a short walk at lunchtime, using ergonomically friendly chairs and taking phone calls while standing are all things that can be done easily.

2. Bring healthy snacks to work like a bag of carrots or celery or a healthy power bar to munch on instead of a candy bar from the vending machine.

3. Drink your coffee without sugar and with skim milk

4. Cut out sodas and sweetened drinks

5. Avoid fried foods

6. Unclutter your work area to decrease stress.

7. Go to sleep at a regular time and give yourself time to unwind before going to bed

8. Quit smoking

9. Limit alcohol intake. One drink daily for a woman and two drinks daily for a man should be the absolute tops.

10. Socialize to increase your happiness

11. Slow your breathing to feel calmer -- in my experience, most Americans breathe 12 to 18 shallow breaths per minute rather than six to eight deeper breaths per minute

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