That's what the American Cancer Society's new guidelines for disease prevention, nutrition and exercise say are the keys to good health -- but not all Americans, it seems, are unlocking the door. So, the cancer society is also calling for communities to step in and help.
Perhaps the most critical guideline concerns personal poundage.
"One of the guidelines that we are emphasizing a little more is maintaining a healthy weight throughout one's life," says Terri Ades, director of Quality of Life and Health Promotion Strategies for the cancer society.
While folks are paying attention when it comes to eating more fruits and vegetables, Ades says America is "still an overweight society." That not only puts people at greater risk for cancer, but also for heart disease and diabetes.
The guidelines also call for Americans to stop smoking, control alcohol consumption, eat a healthier diet and get more exercise.
However, this year they've added another dimension, calling for more community involvement in helping folks achieve these good-health goals.
"We have added a community call to action, where we have asked communities to work together to create a healthy environment where everyone can have access to healthy choices and safe places to be active," Ades says.
Part of the plan, she says, is to pay more attention to community nutrition, particularly school lunches. Here, Ades says the cancer society advises " looking more closely at what is being served," making certain lunches include a variety of plant-based healthy foods.
Of equal concern, Ades adds, is getting children to be more physically active.
"We're finding across the board that children are less active than they have been in the past," Ades says. While there is concern that activities are being cut in school programs, there is equal worry that "when children go home, they are not being engaged in activity," says Ades, who adds parents need to encourage children to move about more.
However, kids aren't alone in their lazier lifestyle. The cancer society says adults are also moving about less.
"Technology and our lifestyles are affecting our levels of activity, and it is more difficult today to be physically active -- everything is right at our fingertips, while we are sitting ," Ades says.
The cancer society hopes a reintroduction of its good health guidelines will help all Americans unlock the door to a healthier future.
What may also help: Along with the new guidelines, the cancer society also introduced the largest database of information linking health and lifestyle factors to cancer. Published in the current issue of Cancer, the new information was based on a study of more than 180,000 people.
What To Do
According to the new guidelines, here are some ways you can reduce your risk of cancer and increase your chances for a longer, healthier life:
- Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
- Chose whole grain products over processed grain products.
- Limit consumption of red meat. When you do eat meat, choose lean cuts and smaller portions.
- Eat smaller portions of high-calorie foods.
- Get at least 30 minutes of daily activity for a minimum of five days a week. Try walking or biking instead of driving; exercising at lunch; walking to a co-worker's desk instead of sending email; dancing; using a stationary bike when you watch TV; and wearing a pedometer, which tracks steps, walking a few more each day.
- Help your children get at least 60 minutes a day of moderate to vigorous physical activity, at least five days a week. Moderate activity includes walking, dancing, bicycling, or roller-skating; vigorous activity includes jogging or running, fast cycling, weight training, aerobics, jump rope, swimming or martial arts.
For a complete look at the new guidelines, go here.
For answers to common questions about cancer and diet, go to the cancer society.