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How Lifestyle Habits Impact Chronic Disease

Chronic diseases are one of the biggest reasons people go to the doctor. The Centers for Disease Control defines chronic disease as a condition that lasts one year or more and requires continuing medical attention or a limitation on your daily activities — or both.

Common chronic diseases include heart disease, cancer, diabetes, lung disease, kidney disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Six in 10 adults in the United States have a chronic disease, and 4 in 10 adults have two or more chronic diseases at the same time.

Many of these chronic diseases are caused by risky behaviors that are lifestyle choices: smoking, poor nutrition, alcohol use, lack of physical activity, and more.

At Sulkowski Family Medicine in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, we see the detrimental effects of these habits on patients every day — here’s a quick look at how several lifestyle habits play a role in chronic disease.


If you’re trying to harm your health, smoking is one of the best things you can do. It leads to disease and disability, and causes damage to almost every organ in your body. More than 16 million Americans live with a disease caused by smoking.

Smoking can cause cancer, stroke, lung diseases, heart disease, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), just to name a few, and it increases the risk of other diseases as well. 

When you stop smoking, you immediately improve your health and you start accruing long-term benefits.

Drinking too much

We all know the short-term dangers of alcohol abuse, but long-term damages can also build up over time if you’re using alcohol excessively. It can cause chronic conditions such as heart and liver disease, strokes, and cancer of the esophagus, breast, mouth, throat, liver, and colon.

If you stop drinking entirely, or at least reduce your consumption, you lower the risk of these long-term problems.

Poor nutrition

Eating a healthy diet is one of the best things you can do to fight off chronic disease. Good nutrition habits help you prevent, delay, and manage conditions such as heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

A healthy diet includes balanced portions of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products.

Along with nutrition, your weight plays a role in your health as well. If you’re already overweight, losing just 5%-7% of your body weight can go a long way toward preventing (or at least delaying) Type 2 diabetes.

Lack of physical activity

Along with good nutrition, getting exercise is one of the best things you can do for your long-term health. Active people live longer in general, but only about half of adults get the activity they need to fight off chronic diseases.

Getting enough physical activity can prevent 1 in 10 premature deaths. It can prevent 1 in 8 cases of breast cancer, 1 in 8 cases of colorectal cancer, 1 in 12 cases of diabetes, and 1 in 5 cases of heart disease. 

No matter where you are in terms of your lifestyle habits, it’s never too late to make a change. If you know you need to improve your health and want to lower your risk of chronic disease, call Sulkowski Family Medicine or book your appointment online with our convenient scheduler.

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