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The Healthy York County Coalition has an ambitious goal. It wants to see York break the top 10 in an annual report that analyzes health rankings by county.

The County Health Rankings, released this past month, ranked York 19 out of 67 Pennsylvania counties in overall health outcomes and 17th in overall health factors.

Bottom line: We've got some work to do.

Health outcomes take into consideration social and economic factors, clinical care and physical environment along with other health behaviors such as smoking and overeating.

We all know that smoking can cause lung cancer, emphysema and heart disease. And second-hand smoke is detrimental to nonsmokers who are consistently exposed to it. That's a lifestyle choice, and it's important to understand the consequences to ourselves and others.

Obesity can result in diabetes, heart disease, stroke and bone and joint issues, among other perilous outcomes. In many cases, that is a clinical and lifestyle issue, and it takes a lot of attention and hard work to implement a lifestyle of healthy eating and physical activity.

Here's the incentive (besides helping your home county make it into the elusive top 10 in the state health rankings): Breathing easier, being lighter and more active, and feeling incredible.

We don't subscribe to the super-skinny supermodel adage that nothing tastes as good as skinny feels. But we believe that the rewards of a healthy lifestyle for a healthy future are often undervalued when there is a tension-easing cigarette or a tasty cheeseburger available today.

Still, achieving a new level of physical fitness and being free from smoking are accomplishments that reverse the cycle of low feelings associated with unhealthy habits.

It's not all about willpower. Many have issues around smoking or overeating that extend beyond willpower. That's why the Healthy York County Coalition and health professionals are an integral part of the solution.

Some insurance companies offer health coaches — for free — to help along the way.

If you're considering adopting a healthier lifestyle, reach out and take advantage of the support system.

We believe that the coalition can help the county reach a higher ranking – but only if Yorkers commit to changing some bad habits.

That's the challenging part. Because free will extends to the will to ignore health warnings in order to hang on to hard-to-break habits.

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