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Healthy Monday: Ask yourself, what is your default?


Bike racks such as these are common throughout Austria.

We‘ve grown accustomed to high fructose corn syrup, to spending hours in front of electronic screens, to eating large portions of food.

It doesn‘t have to be this way.

We can improve our health – reduce heart disease, diabetes and obesity – if we reprogram ourselves as individuals and as a society, says Cynthia Morrow MD, health commissioner for Onondaga County. “We know that if people don‘t feel like it is safe to walk because there are no sidewalks, they will not walk. If there‘s no safe place to ride your bike, you will not ride your bike,” Morrow says. “We need to look from a societal perspective of how we can create our environment to have healthy defaults as opposed to unhealthy.”

Examples: Make foods with lower fat and sugar content more readily available, offering them side by side – and for the same price as – not-too-healthy foods. Use smaller plates at home and at work.  Post signs near elevators to encourage people to take the stairs. Before long, multiple small steps toward health will become our default.