Click It or Kick It

I admit it – I’m a bit of a health nut. I’ve always been conscientious about integrating healthy habits into my lifestyle. When I was growing up, my mom always cooked healthy meals and I made it a habit to stay away from fast food. Throughout elementary and middle school, I played YMCA sports and attended a sports summer camp to stay active. Exercising regularly was and has always been an integral part of my daily life; in high school I played Varsity basketball, and at Colgate I do my best to make it down to Huntington on a pretty regular schedule. Apart from maintaining a relatively healthy eating and exercising schedule, I am also mindful about making sure I get a good night’s sleep and keeping a healthy social life. I suppose healthy for me has always meant balance and moderation.

While I have always defined a healthy lifestyle according to good sleeping, eating, and exercise habits, it recently occurred to me that there are other regular habits that people can perform to stay healthy – and I’m sure many of them aren’t recognized. For example, I would argue that wearing a seatbelt is paramount to maintaining good eating, sleeping, and exercising habits. Now I know this may sound silly at first; one is tempted to think that wearing a seat belt is just common sense, but in reality, there are a striking number of people who endanger their lives every day by forgetting or ignoring this small habit. And I’d be willing to bet that the majority of the people who read this probably have a friend or a loved one who falls under those categories.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t always wear my seat belt – especially when I just jump in the car and drive down the street to the grocery store. And let’s face it – when you’re trying to fall asleep in the car on a long road trip, strapping yourself into a seatbelt is hardly like snuggling up comfortably with a soft fluffy pillow. However, as annoying as seatbelts may be, they are absolutely essential. Even though I have been aware of this ever since I was a little girl, it was only recently over Winter Break, when someone close to me got in a car accident “just driving down the street to the grocery store,” that I fully realized how incredibly important it is to wear a seat belt. Luckily, he only suffered minor injuries, but the occurrence drew my attention to some striking statistics regarding car crashes in Arizona, my home state. Needless to say, I was astonished.

According to the National Safety Council, an individual’s chance of dying in a car crash is one in 84. Moreover, automobile accidents are the leading cause of work related injuries. On average, there are 139,265 reported vehicle crashes in Arizona annually, and 70,293 people are injured from those incidents. 1,472 people are killed, and more than 20 percent of fatal crashes involve drunk drivers.

So, while eating a low-fat breakfast might decrease my own risk of being one of the one million Americans across the nation who die of heart disease, I now realize that the simple habit of strapping myself into a seat belt when I get into a car will significantly lower my chance of being one out of the 84 people who will die in a car crash. So, all things considered with respect to my ‘healthy lifestyle,’ deciding whether or not to wear my seat belt for a ride down the street doesn’t seem like a hard choice – or even an option.