Wellness Corner: Chronic Diseases

According to the National Health Council (2018) and Dowrick et al (2016), Chronic Illnesses (Diseases) are prolonged, lasting three months or longer and generally incurable and ongoing. In the United States, 133 million Americans (or an equivalent of 40% of the population) are suffering from one or a combination of chronic diseases (NHC, 2018). The National Health Council (2018) reported that seven out of 10 deaths are due to chronic diseases. Chronic Illness includes cardio-vascular diseases (hypertension, coronary disease, stroke, and heart failure), various forms of arthritis, respiratory problems, diabetes, and epilepsy, among others (Dowrick et al, 2016).

In the United States, chronic diseases cost around 4.2 trillion dollars on hospitalization and lost economic output (NHC, 2018). Not to mention the impact of the disease on the patients and their immediate family members.

The World Health Organization (WHO, 2010) Global Status Report and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2018) clarified that con-communicable diseases (NCDs) are the leading causes of disability and death globally. Of the 57 million deaths in 2008 alone, non-communicable diseases account for almost 2/3 (36 million) of the deaths.

The WHO (2010) and CDC (2015) explained that NCDs are caused to a large extent by behavioral risk factors, including rapid urbanization, unhealthy lifestyle (unhealthy diet or poor nutrition, obesity, tobacco, and use of alcohol) and insufficient physical activity. According to Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD, 2018) Chronic Diseases are now considered a growing crisis in the United States. The PFCD (2018) reported that Chronic Diseases are costing both employers and employees, because of increase in health costs and loss of productivity due to absences or tardiness.

Although the challenge is daunting, the good news is Chronic Diseases can be prevented (WHO, 2018). The WHO (2018) proposed some intervention to minimize the impact of Chronic Diseases both to the persons and the economy in general, like banning smoking in public places; warning about the danger of tobacco use; raising taxes on tobacco; enforcing bans on alcohol advertisement; reducing salt intake; promoting public awareness about diet and physical activity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2009) also proposed the following interventions, which are directed towards the persons, rather than the government or institutions, like quitting smoking, diet, and exercise at least 150 minutes a week.

The National Conference of State Legislatures (2018) suggested chronic disease prevention and management, like promoting health and wellness programs at schools, worksites, health care, and community-based settings.

At present, Xavier University - Ateneo de Cagayan, through the University Athletics Office organized year-round wellness activities and the annual sportsfest. The ultimate goal of the program is to bring more people to engage in physical activities regularly. Currently, the University wellness program includes aerobic exercise and basketball every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for the main campus and aerobic exercise every Tuesday and Thursday in the Pueblo campus.

The community is also encouraged to organize themselves and engage in activities that they enjoy doing with their friends and officemates, like badminton, volleyball, walking and even weights training.∎

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