Building a health and wellness plan

Try these helpful steps to become healthier and stronger.

According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), almost 70 percent of adult Michiganders are either overweight (34.6%) or obese (35.2%). This is concerning as obesity is at the root of most chronic diseases, which can reduce one’s quality of life and longevity.

To foster a healthier and stronger Michigan, MDHHS initiated a Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity Program, which works with local organizations to create policies, systems and environmental changes (PSEs) that promote healthy eating and physical activity. The goal is to reduce health disparities and barriers that Michiganders may face as they pursue their health goals.

Michigan State University Extension also engages in PSE work to make healthier choices easier for everyone. In 2022, MSU Extension staff implemented almost 37,000 PSE changes at 185 locations (such as schools, workplaces and community centers), reaching a total of 157,191 people! Changes included using community gardens for nutrition education and incorporating physical activity during class-based instruction. In addition to embracing PSE changes, MDHHS encourages Michiganders to pursue four key behaviors and track four key measures for healthier outcomes.

Key healthy behaviors

  • Maintain a healthy diet that includes a variety of foods including fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products. It is important to mindfully select food worth eating while reducing the consumption of highly processed foods that have added sugars, salt, and saturated fats. Choosing a nutrient-rich diet can decrease the risk for obesity and chronic disease while supporting healthy growth and development.
  • Engage in regular exercise that includes at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week. This can include enjoyable activities such as walking, gardening or pickleball and ideally incorporates flexibility, strengthening and endurance exercises. These can help in the development of strong bones, joints and muscles, as well as improve balance and help prevent falls. Physical activity is also a natural mood booster and gives us a positive feeling of well-being.
  • Get an annual physical exam and advocate for yourself by asking questions during your visit. Topics of discussion could include vaccinations, health screenings, blood tests, prescriptions and suggestions to improve one’s health. It is also important to prioritize one’s oral health by scheduling regular dental visits each year. Prioritizing preventive care can help reduce the risk for chronic conditions such as cancers, diabetes and heart disease.
  • Avoid all tobacco use and exposure, which harms most organs of the body and may lead to disease and disability. Cigarette smoking continues to be the leading cause of premature and preventable death in the United States. Quitting smoking significantly improves quality of life and could promote longevity. Free cessation resources such as Michigan’s Tobacco Quitlink can help individuals successfully live tobacco free.

Key health measures

  • Body Mass Index (BMI) is a calculation based on one’s height and weight that may indicate if someone is underweight (BMI under 18.5), healthy (18.5-24.9), overweight (25-29.9) or obese (BMI over 30). Measures may be impacted by one’s ancestry, age or muscle mass.
  • Blood pressure measures the force of blood pumping against one’s arteries when the heart beats (top number) and rests (bottom number). The target range should be under 120/80.
  • Cholesterol level measures how much LDL (low density lipoprotein) and HDL (high density lipoprotein) is circulating in one’s bloodstream. Healthy cholesterol levels should be below 200.
  • Blood glucose (sugar) levels must be below 100mg/dl (after fasting). Requesting an A1C test to measure one’s average blood glucose level could be a helpful approach for diabetes prevention and/or management.

Engaging in healthy behaviors and taking note of key health measures can help reduce one’s risk for chronic disease and improve overall health and wellbeing. For additional information about health programs and resources, visit MSU Extension's Food & Health website.

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