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Do You Tend to be Proactive or Reactive?

Be Proactive by Taking Action

Being proactive means taking action before you start to experience negative effects (before you are forced to be in reaction mode.) When you're reactive, you're always playing catch up.  Instead of making positive choices, you're stuck responding to something negative that has already happened.

When you're proactive, you can lead the way with your positive choices. You get to decide how things are going to go.
In health related matters it is best to be proactive, rather than reactive, as much as possible.

Instead of allowing our kids to sit around all day watching television or playing video games for hours at a time, we can be proactive and encourage them to participate in sports and other fun physical activities for at least an hour each day.

Most people feel like they don't have enough time each day to do everything they'd like to do. But we can be proactive and decide what really is the best use of our time.

Planning is essential to living a healthy life style and making healthy food choices.  We can plan ahead for our weekly trip to the grocery store, to make sure that we purchase a variety of health promoting whole foods.  We are being proactive by taking the time to prepare nutritious meals for our families, helping to ensure our health and the health of our family members.

In many circumstances in our daily lives, we have the opportunity to either take action and be proactive or to be reactive instead.  If there is someone in your life who treats you with disrespect, you can react by getting angry or taking your frustrations out on someone else.  Another way you can react is by taking some deep breaths while you count to ten and release your anger and tension.  The way you react to stressful people and situations is always a choice.  You can also choose to be proactive which in this case may be to calmly speak to this person and explain how you feel, or take steps to limit interactions with this person if all else fails.  Being reactive or proactive is a personal choice, and can produce different outcomes.  This is also true with regard to the way we approach managing aspects of our health.

Increasing numbers of Americans are affected by chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.  One third of all Americans have a chronic disease, and the majority have more than one. It's also common knowledge that two out of three American adults are either overweight or obese. The majority of these disorders are the result of people being reactive when it comes to their health.

For example, the majority of cancers are preventable.1 Eating the typical American diet of junk food, fast food, and empty calories is a choice many people make. These choices stress the body organs and glands causing increased body fat and chronic diseases over time.  It may even lead to a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.  This is typically a wake up call for people, who react to this news by becoming determined to reduce or eliminate junk food, lose weight, and finally get serious about exercise. They are now in reaction mode.

There are consequences to being reactive rather than proactive when it comes to your health. Type 2 diabetes is associated with increased risk of developing cancer 2 as well as cardiovascular disease.  Once you have a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes it's certainly important to be reactive, but a proactive lifestyle approach could easily have prevented these long-term consequences.  It is the same with cardiovascular disease. You may have never felt you needed to watch your weight, but over the years you've gradually gained weight and now you're becoming concerned.  Perhaps you've been informed that your cholesterol levels and blood pressure are both much too high and advised to make several lifestyle changes. Now you're in reactive mode as you hope to reverse the negative effects of your long-standing bad habits.

Once again there are consequences to being reactive. Elevated cholesterol and high blood pressure are important risk factors for heart attack and stroke. 3Engaging in healthful actions in the first place helps to reduce these risks.

Regular chiropractic care is an important component of a healthy lifestyle. Chiropractic care can be reactive, helping you to recover from an injury to your back or neck. Chiropractic care can be of even greater benefit from a proactive perspective. Chiropractic treatment can help to ensure that all of your body systems are working in harmony as efficiently as possible. Receiving regular chiropractic care will help you to maximize the benefits that come from being proactive about your health - making healthy food choices, exercising regularly, and making sure you get sufficient rest.

1 American Cancer Society: Cancer Prevention and Early Detection. Facts and Figures. Atlanta, GA, ACS, 2008
2 Currie CJ, et al: The influence of glucose-lowering therapies on cancer risk in type 2 diabetes. Diabetologia 52(9):1766-1777, 2009
3Robinson JG, et al: Atherosclerosis profile and incidence of cardiovascular events. A population-based survey. BMC Cardiovasc Disord 9(1):46, 2009

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