It’s both empowering and intimidating to know that we can control — or at least strongly influence — our current and future health and wellness. To know that our actions today directly influence whether we get heart disease or diabetes, suffer from certain cancers, or are able to move easily without pain as we age is freeing. It is up to us, and we can decide our physical fate, at least to a certain degree. On the other hand, it’s a lot of responsibility. It means every choice we make about what we eat or how we spend our free time adds up, every single day.
With changing habits, it’s easy to say, “I’ll start tomorrow” or, “I’d rather live for today.” If that’s the exception and not the norm, you’re probably fine. No one can make the right choices all of the time. You will have a doughnut now and then. You will skip a chance to exercise. We recommend taking a kinder, gentler approach: rather than rewriting your entire list of daily habits, start with one or two. Here are some simple ways to begin.
- Give up soda and other sugary drinks
If you only make one change in your diet this year, make it this one: Replace high-calorie drinks such as soda, juice and alcohol with water. If you have a sugary drink habit, you might not realize that cutting way back will help you achieve a healthy weight much more easily.
Try alternatives like water with a splash of juice or lemonade, flavored sparkling water or skim, almond or coconut milk instead of whole milk.
And hitting a healthier weight goal is so worthwhile because it wards off numerous health problems, from heart disease, diabetes and osteoarthritis to chronic pain, depression and even mental illness.
- Get health screenings when recommended
As you reach the milestones of ages 30, 40, 50 and above, your doctor will recommend certain health screenings. Get them. Catching chronic diseases and cancer early means you’ll avoid serious problems and unpleasant treatments.
Canceris more treatable in its early stages. It’s much easier to get a screening than to undergo treatment, and early detection usually means a longer lifespan.
- Swap Facebook time for exercise
It’s easy to think you don’t have time for exercise, but it can happen in the time you’d take to watch a sitcom or surf the internet. Instead of hauling yourself to the gym, take 20 to 30 minutes and walk around the neighborhood, or go through a quick routine in your living room of good old-fashioned sit ups, pushups, squats, jumping jacks or running in place.
If you’re an early riser, exercise early. Or try keeping a workout journal or make physical activity a social event by exercising with a friend, family member or neighbor. Just find something you enjoy and that works for you.
- Understand your health issues
Take the time to learn about your health issues, because patients who understand their conditions, treatments and medications have better outcomes. Ask your provider questions to ensure you have a clear understanding.
It’s important to not only know which medicines you take, but why you take them. When you know their purpose, you’re more likely to take them consistently — and you’ll get better results.
- See your primary health-care provider regularly
Having a regular health-care provider who knows you and your health history is valuable because they can spot when something changes, keep you on top of health screenings and know what to watch for — bettering the chance that symptoms won’t be missed. It helps you be proactive, rather than reactive, with your health.
That’s why it’s so important to see your primary-care provider when you’re still well. Annual exams can head off lots of potential problems at the pass. Why develop and have to deal with an illness that you could have prevented in the first place?
Just a few changes today can improve your health tomorrow. Prowers Medical Center is dedicated to wellness — for their patients and their Team Members. Prowers Medical Center’s worksite wellness program is alive and well with a current focus to help individuals set and maintain their health and fitness goals for the New Year.