We need to get beyond the “feel sick, take a pill” approach to health. By taking a proactive approach, we can get healthy and feel better on our own terms without turning to drugs and expensive therapies.
Make the commitment and follow a few simple steps to feeling better on your own terms.
Quit smoking. If you don’t smoke, don’t start
This is the simplest, most straightforward way to improve your health quickly. Smoking reduces your cardiovascular performance, stresses your heart and lungs, suppresses your immune system and affects just about every other system in your body. What’s more, it has similar impacts on everyone around you, especially children, the elderly and those with weakened immune response.
The good news is that, no matter how long you have been smoking, quitting today will improve your health and extend your life expectancy.
Because smoking tobacco is so addictive, it can be hard to quit. Talk to your primary health care provider, or call us at Proactive Wellness Centers to find out how to get help.
An active lifestyle boosts your cardiovascular system, improves bone density, boosts the functioning of every body system and even has profound impacts on your mental health. Aim for 150 minutes, or two and a half hours, of moderate physical activity every week. That’s just over 20 minutes a day, or if you prefer to chill on weekends, half an hour, five days a week.
Choose an activity you enjoy doing, and commit to doing it regularly. It doesn’t have to be a sport that takes time to organize. It can be as simple as taking a walk, playing catch with the kids, even gardening. The important thing is to set aside the time to be physically active every day.
Choosing a healthy diet can be confusing. It seems that food that was considered healthy last year is scary dangerous this year, and what was bad for you yesterday is what you should be eating today.
Generally speaking, though, a few simple rules always make sense.
- Start with lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Include nuts, too, for healthy fats.
- Choose fresh food whenever possible. Your body actually burns more calories in digesting raw and fresh compared to processed food. Avoid highly processed and packaged choices, which often have far more salt and sugar added that you might think.
- Wash fruits and vegetables before eating or cooking with them to remove any pesticide residues or other foreign matter that may have gotten onto them.
- Moderate your intake of red meat. Substitute fish, lean chicken and turkey as alternatives to beef or pork through the week.
- Choose vegetables and fruits for snacks, avoiding highly processed, packaged sweet and salty options.
- Don’t worry about fat. Carbohydrates, such as sugars and starches, add more to your waistline than fats.
- Don’t bother with fad diets like keto, paleo or whatever diet celebrities are pushing. Keep it simple.
Maintain a healthy weight
The previous two tips will go a long way to helping you maintain a healthy weight. Check out your body mass index, which compares your height and weight. Try to keep your index below 25 to stay healthy.
If your BMI is over that, your weight is putting more strain on your joints, heart, lungs and cardiovascular system. Reducing by even five pounds can make your knees and back feel better.
Moderate alcohol consumption
Alcohol has longer-lasting and deeper impacts than many of us understand. While moderate consumption can help with mood and certainly is a factor in social gatherings — which are important for mental health — excessive alcohol consumption can have severe and long-lasting impacts on health.
Men should consume no more than 15 drinks per week, including beer, wine and spirits. Women should not have more than 10 drinks per week.
Protect yourself from excess sun
Wear sunscreen or sun block when you go outside, even on warm, overcast days. Wear a hat and long-sleeved shirt. Try to stay out of the sun at the brightest, hottest time of day, between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Avoid tanning booths.
Get enough sleep
Sufficient sleep is vital to the quality of your waking life, including your mood, heart health, immune system, productivity, emotional balance, brain and heart health, immune system, creativity, vitality, and even your weight.
Adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. Children under 12 need as much as 10 to 13, while teens need 8 to 10 hours.
Try to avoid looking at computer screens, especially phones and tablets, just before bedtime. The light has been found to interfere with your ability to fall asleep.
See your doctor regularly
All children and adults should have regular medical checkups. — this includes young, healthy adult men. It’s far better to find problems early, when they’re easier to treat.
All adults should ask for regular checks for colon and rectal cancer, breast cancer, cervical cancer, and lung cancer for smokers and ex-smokers.
If you do feel ill, don’t wait to seek help. Frequent low-grade illnesses, chronic fatigue and constant aches can be signals of a deeper issue.
See your family doctor or call us at Proactive Wellness Centers, 703-822-5003, to find out how to take charge of your health.