The Cooper Institute

Founded in 1970 by the "Father of Aerobics"
Kenneth H. Cooper MD, MPH


The Fantastic Four (Health Habits)

Posted in
Live well

Monday, Aug 31, 2009

What if I told you that if you did four things, you might be 36% less likely to develop cancer than a person who did none of these?  Or 50% less likely to have a stroke? Perhaps 81% reduced risk for a heart attack would get your attention?  Would you do these four things if it meant you might be able to lower your risk of diabetes by 93%?  93%!!!

What are these “Fantastic Four?” 

Health factors that far too many of us skip or ignore.  They are:

  • Never smoked.
  • Body mass index is less than 30. (Check yours out here.)
  • Exercise for 3.5 hours or more a week.
  • Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and very little red meat.

According to a large study of German men and women, the more of these healthy habits the subjects practiced the lower their risk of developing one or more of the chronic diseases cited above.  People who did all four had a 78% reduction in risk of developing cancer, diabetes, heart attack, or stroke than those who did none of the healthy habits.  Even doing one cut the chances by nearly 50%.  Being physically active and eating a healthy diet – the two calorie balance habits we advocate on the Stand Up and Eat web site – lowered risk by a whopping 66%. 

Not German?  No worries.  The results of this study are very, very similar to studies that have been done with American participants.  The bottom line is that adopting simple healthy habits can have a major impact on disease risk. 

How many of the “Fantastic Four” do you do? 


1 Ford et al.  Healthy living is the best revenge: Findings from the European Prospective Investigation into cancer and nutrition – Potsdam study.  Archives of Internal Medicine.  2009;169(15):1355-1362.