“Healthy Monday is our way of kicking off the week with useful health tips, information or news put together by our team of Health Consultants.”
The gift of life is a privilege that should be cherished and treasured like a rare gem. One of the ways of showing that we value this precious gift is by cultivating healthy habits and lifestyle.
It is widely popularized that the leading cause of death in the United States is not the various chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and chronic lower respiratory disease, but the unhealthy lifestyle that is typical of most Americans. The result of a study conducted by Mathew Reeves, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Michigan State University, revealed that only three percent of Americans maintain a healthy lifestyle. Another discovery from this research was that only these three percent cultivated a habit of undertaking four basic steps that define a healthy lifestyle. These are: maintaining a healthy weight
- Eating right,
- Including a minimum of 5 fruits/vegetables a day,
- Exercising at least 5 times a week for 30 minutes, and
- Not smoking
“Health is Wealth” is a popular cliché that summarizes the significance of healthy living. No one can buy good health, but within our capabilities, we can develop good habits and make choices that would lead to a healthier lifestyle.
Healthy Eating. A lot of people do not realize the importance of eating right in the prevention of diseases. As a matter of fact, the quality and quantity of the food you eat goes a long way in reducing or increasing your risk to certain diseases. In order to develop healthy eating habits, at least five servings of vegetables and fruits must be eaten each day; whole grains should be chosen over processed grains and sugar; healthier fats, such as olive oil should be substituted for trans fat, saturated fat and cholesterol-packed food; eight glasses of water should be taken each day; and portion sizes should be reasonable and well controlled.
Weight Management. Maintaining a healthy body weight is a fundamental means of harnessing the benefits associated with a healthy lifestyle. An overweight individual is at a higher risk of many significant health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, breast and prostate cancer, and other obesity-related problems. According to experts, obesity is the second most common preventable cause of death in the United States. Dietary control is not the only way of maintaining a healthy body weight for overweight individuals, but other considerations should include identifying the ideal weight that meets your body size, determining the limit of your daily calorie intake, becoming physically active, avoiding skipping any meals especially breakfast, reading food labels and selecting healthier choices.
Routine Exercise. A sedentary lifestyle also predisposes people to a higher risk of certain diseases. For example, exercise and a healthy diet assist the body in utilizing the insulin hormone in a more efficient manner, thus helping to manage or prevent Type 2 diabetes. Exercise also helps in burning calories which is important for the maintenance of a healthy body weight. It is important to know that going to the gym is beneficial; however, the accumulation of various physical activities during the day such as walking instead of taking the elevators also provides an effective means of burning calories. Other benefits of regular exercise include increased energy, mental focus, strength, endurance, stamina, metabolic rate, blood circulation, coordination and balance.
Avoid smoking, alcohol and drugs. Smoking, alcohol and drugs have varying negative impacts on health. Research has shown that smoking is the most common preventable cause of death in the United States and it brings about more health problems than any other personal habit. Smoking can cause heart and lung diseases; alcohol abuse can lead to liver and heart problems; while drug use can also cause heart and breathing problems. Avoidance of these habits can help prevent the aforementioned diseases and other types of cancer, thereby leading to a more healthy living.
Stress Management. Stress has a way of affecting one’s health in a negative way when managed inefficiently. Stress is a normal part of life. However, it needs to be managed properly because too much stress can lead to emotional, psychological, and even physical problems such as high blood pressure. The key to stress management is avoiding tasks or people that stress you out as much as possible and developing a resistance and action plan for those that cannot be avoided. Taking time out to have fun and relax can also help in reducing stress.
Adequate sleep. A sufficient amount of sleep is essential for the healthy functioning of the human body. Certain parts of the body, such as the brain, use the sleep period to recharge itself in order to continue functioning in an optimal condition. Sleep is necessary for growth and boosting of the immune system, while inadequate sleep and sleep deprivation can lead to decreased physical productivity, memory and cognitive impairment. Experts say there is no magic number to the ideal sleep duration because different age groups require differing amount of sleep. However, for most adults, an average of seven to eight hours a night is deemed adequate. In a previous post on our “Healthy Monday”column, we shared information about the recommended amount of sleep required by our bodies based on updates from the National Sleep Foundation. Click here if you missed it!
Regular Health Checkups. One of the ways of proactively managing our health is by developing a routine health checkup plan. The benefits include identification of the early onset of problems and early diagnosis of diseases, thereby leading to a higher probability of cure. Routine health check has been known to save lives. I know of a friend’s mum who detected that she had an abnormally high blood pressure during a routine visit to the doctor. Just that visit saved her life.
Developing a healthy lifestyle requires a fundamental mindset change. It is essential to understand that a lifestyle change involving the cultivation of healthy habits provides a better remedy to whatever medicine has to offer. An individual who cultivates a healthy lifestyle has much to gain with regards to lower probability of early death, reduced medical bills, lower occurrence of diseases, improved quality of life, and peace of mind.
Have a healthy week!
Culled from a previous article published in the Golden Icons Magazine.
Photo Credit: Healthy Living Vancouver