Simple steps to staying healthy
Updated: February 23, 2013 9:56PM
With our hectic lifestyles and rising health-care costs, looking and feeling healthy may seem beyond our reach.
But implementing 10 simple, low-cost suggestions may help you experience less illness and have more energy
• Eat right: According to the American Heart Association, 66 percent of adults age 20 or older are obese, and one in three children and teens is overweight. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and stroke are among obesity’s possible health consequences.
Focus on whole grains, vegetables and fruits, moderate protein, low-fat dairy products and fiber, while limiting sugar, salt and high-fat foods. Consult your doctor before taking supplements. Some vitamins are actually toxic in large amounts; others may interfere with certain medications.
• Drink right: According to the Mayo Clinic, drinking at least eight glasses of water each day flushes out toxins from organs, brings nutrients to cells and keeps the tissues in the ears, nose and throat moist. It also replaces water lost through breathing, perspiring and urination. At the same time, reduce alcohol consumption. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states small amounts of alcohol may lower the risk for coronary artery disease. However, heavy drinking (considered more than 2 drinks a day for men and more than 1 drink a day for women) may raise blood pressure and adversely affect the liver.
• Exercise right: Adults need at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise each week, or about 30 minutes each day. If you find it difficult to schedule this much time for daily exercise, try 10-minute increments, three times a day. Adults also need strengthening exercises that build muscle mass. To be most effective, these need to be done in sets at least twice a week.
• Sleep right: The average adult needs six to eight hours of sleep each night. Chronic sleep deprivation and untreated obstructive sleep apnea mean greater risk for accidents, as well as hypertension, irregular heartbeat, stroke and diabetes. Occasionally, you can make up lost sleep during the weekends, but poor sleep habits over time will create a deficit that’s difficult to remedy.
• Think right: Researchers have noted that stress and negative emotions weaken the immune system. Several times a day, take a few minutes to relax and clear your mind. Read a stimulating book, visit a museum or tackle that crossword puzzle.
• Connect right: In a world of social media, emails and text messages, there is still no substitute for close relationships. “Psychology Today” listed the health benefits of true friendships: fewer colds, healthier brains and higher survival rates for breast cancer and heart disease.
• Brush right: Poor dental health brings consequences worse than bleeding gums and tooth loss. Periodontal disease may foster coronary artery disease, dementia, diabetes, respiratory infections, infertility and miscarriages.
• Safeguard right: Frequently wash your hands. Get a flu shot. Wear a seat belt and drive the posted speed limit. Don’t engage in unprotected sexual activity.
• Breath right: If you smoke, quit. Avoid secondhand smoke. Tobacco damages your blood vessels, heart and lungs. Period.
• Play right: Carve out some time each day for activities you enjoy. Life is good. Celebrate it.
Elizabeth Durbin is a family physician who practices at Fairview Family Practice, a practice of Adventist Health Partners.