Action or Reaction?
|Taking Action - Being Proactive
Being proactive means taking action before things start to go bad. In other words, taking action before you need to be in reaction mode. When you're reactive, you're always catching up. You're responding to something that's already happened.
When you're proactive, your moves go first. You lead the way. You get to choose how things are going to go.
When it comes to the our health and the health of our family, we always want to be proactive rather than reactive whenever possible.
Rather than permitting our kids to sit around all afternoon and all evening, watching TV and talking on their phones for five hours, we are proactive and encourage them to engage in fun physical activities and sports for at least an hour each day.
Everyone wishes they had more hours in the day. There's never enough time to do everything we want. But rather than taking the path of least resistance and ordering pizza and other fast foods for dinner most evenings, we are proactive.
We take the time to plan our once-per-week shopping, making sure we're purchasing a variety of healthy foods and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. We take the time to prepare healthy, nutritious meals for the entire family. We're proactive parents, taking the time to take care of our health and the health of our kids.
We're all familiar with the mechanism of action-and-reaction in the world of sports. Pitcher-and-batter is an action-reaction duo in baseball. A basketball guard driving to the hoop and a defender leaping to block the shot is another example. A racecar driver negotiating a tight turn at speed is executing a complex series of actions and reactions.
Actions and reactions may also refer to choices we make in our daily lives. Someone cuts you off as you're trying to get into the left-hand lane. That's an action. Yelling and shaking your fist in the direction of that driver who by now is long gone is one sort of reaction. Taking a deep breath and simply releasing your tension is another sort of reaction. We may also take action on our own behalf or be reactive to events as they unfold. These are personal choices and, of course, there's no "right" way to be. However, the outcomes and consequences of an active vs. a reactive approach may often be different. These differences are apparent when we consider our approaches to personal health.
For example, the numbers of people affected by chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer continue to increase. In the United States one out of every three persons has a chronic disease, and most of these people have more than one chronic disease. It's also well-known that two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese. The majority of these disorders are related to people being reactive when it comes to their health. For example, the majority of cancers are preventable.1
Eating more food than your body needs for energy is a choice. Over time these extra calories accumulate in the body and one or more chronic diseases is the result. Finally, your doctor informs you that you have type 2 diabetes. You react to this news and declare you're going to cut down on junk food, lose weight, and really get serious about exercise. You're in reaction mode.
But there are consequences. 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 an active lifestyle approach could easily have prevented long-term consequences. Likewise with cardiovascular disease. You've never felt you needed to watch your weight, but as the years have gone by you've gradually gained weight and now you're concerned. Your doctor may inform you that both your blood pressure and your cholesterol levels are way too high and recommend several lifestyle changes that have been shown to be beneficial. Now you're in reactive mode and you eagerly desire to make a change.
Again, there are consequences. High blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels are important risk factors for heart attack and stroke. 3
Engaging 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 an active perspective. Chiropractic care helps to ensure that all of your body systems are working efficiently and working in harmony. Chiropractic helps you maximize the benefits from your lifestyle actions of a healthy diet, regular exercise, and sufficient rest.
American Cancer Society: Cancer Prevention and Early Detection. Facts and Figures. Atlanta, GA, ACS, 2008
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