Taking care of yourself is making an investment in your future. All it takes is a few lifestyle changes, and none of them have to be drastic or unpleasant. You'll thank yourself later, when you can feel the difference in how you feel each day. Here are a few basic things you can do to take control of your health and well-being.
Don't smoke tobacco. If you've been smoking for years, it's never too late to quit. If you don't smoke, don't even start. By quitting or never starting, you can dramatically decrease your risk of dying from cancer or heart disease.
Eat healthy and in moderation. Stay away from fad diets – it's all about eating smart, paying attention to what is in your food and where it comes from, and eating the right amounts. Here are a few of the basics:
- Eat mostly green and bright colored vegetables.
- Eat less saturated fats, like in red meat, full-fat dairy.
- Stay away from trans fats, like in some margarine and packaged baked goods.
- Cook with healthy oils like olive oil and canola oil.
- Avoid foods high in salt.
- Eat foods with a low glycemic index, like nuts or old-fashioned oatmeal.
- Decrease your portions – don't supersize!
Exercise regularly. Get more physical activity in your daily life, as much as possible. Try to move and get your blood pumping for at least 10 minutes each day, even if you are just taking a stroll around the block. If you are in a wheelchair, pick up a few free weights in a comfortable, but slightly challenging weight, and pump some iron.
Drink in moderation and avoid addictive drugs. One or two drinks per day is fine, and depending on the type of alcohol, can even be beneficial. One drink is equal to a glass of wine, a bottle of beer, or a shot of liquor. Red wine contains an antioxidant that is good for your heart. Also, never drink and drive, because this is life-threatening to you and others.
Buckle up! Nothing is easier than buckling your seat-belt to take control of your own health. Urge your passengers to buckle up, as well. The leading cause of death for people under 34 is bodily injury, but many injuries and deaths on the road can be prevented if you were your seat-belt.
Get regular checkups. Get regular health screenings, and don't miss your checkups. Pay attention to how you feel, and let your doctor know right away if you have been experiencing something new.
Get vaccinated. Keep up on flu shots or pneumonia shots when appropriate, or when recommended by your doctor. Those over the age of 55 are urged to get a pneumonia shot or flu shot, since they are more susceptible to complications. Those with chronic health conditions, as well as small children should also get a flu shot at the start of each flu season.