The Ohio State University Alumni Association

Catch some no-nonsense health advice from Ohio State’s chief wellness officer.

Ohio State can brag about a lot of things, but healthiest university on the planet? That’s what Bernadette Mazurek Melnyk — the university’s chief wellness officer, associate vice president for health promotion and College of Nursing dean — has set our sights on. And she’s counting on alumni to help. Here (and in future Ohio State Alumni articles), Melnyk will give us practical advice for getting there.

Dean Melnyk and Eddie George

Eddie George and Bern Melnyk lead a fitness bootcamp on the Oval in June.

While cardiovascular disease is technically still the No. 1 killer of Americans, unhealthy behaviors — smoking, overeating, alcohol and drug use, and lack of exercise — are truly the leading cause of death.

Research shows that four daily behaviors can lead to a 74 percent reduction in stress, 66 percent drop in diabetes and 45 percent decline in both back pain and depression:

  1. Don’t smoke.
  2. Eat five servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
  3. Participate in at least 30 minutes of physical activity, five days a week. (Three 10-minute sessions a day are fine.)
  4. Limit alcohol to no more than one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men.

That last one makes some people happy. Just remember, we aren’t talking about a Super Big Gulp serving. Serving sizes are 5 ounces for wine, 12 ounces for beer and 1.5 ounces for liquor.

I frequently hear from people who have trouble scheduling 30 minutes of physical activity into their days. If you work in an office setting, here’s one answer: Schedule 50-minute meetings. I can almost promise you will get through your agenda and still have 10 minutes to get up and move. Do it three times a day and you’ve reached your goal!

Moving your body has proven benefits. Researchers have shown through MRIs that only 20 minutes of physical activity improves brain circulation and functioning. So, if you’re headed for a mid-afternoon crash, instead of reaching for caffeine, get up and move. You’ll be amazed at how a walk will increase your energy level.

Most people don’t change behaviors or appreciate their health unless a crisis happens or they experience an illness. Please don’t wait until then. Commit today to just one healthy lifestyle change. If you don’t do it for yourself, do it for someone you love who wants you around for a very long time.