We want to live a long life, stay healthy and be able to take good care of ourselves and those we hold dear. We cannot change some pre-existing risk factors, but we can all make choices that support our health and greatly reduce the risk of developing chronic conditions such as heart disease, many cancers, and Type II diabetes.
Five steps to a healthier you:
1. Avoid smoking
Tobacco consumption and exposure to second-hand smoke are important causes of premature death from heart and lung disease, myocardial infarction and cancer.
If you smoke, you can put a stop to it. It’s never too late to do so, however long you’ve been smoking or how many times you’ve tried to quit smoking. When you stop smoking, the risk of heart disease decreases rapidly. After a few years, your risk is almost as low as if you had never smoked. Ask your doctor about methods to quit smoking.
If you do not smoke, do not start. Everyone should avoid exposing themselves to second-hand smoke, which may have the same health risks as smoking. It is particularly important for children and people with asthma and respiratory problems to live in a smoke-free environment.
2. Eat well to be healthy
A good diet helps you stay in shape, feel good and control your weight. A good diet also protects against disease, stroke, cancer and other serious diseases.
Here are some tips from Canada’s Food Guide:
- Eat small portions of lean meat, fish or poultry and remove visible fat.
- Plan your meals from vegetables, fruits, and cereals, e.g., rice, pasta, bread, and cereals. Choose whole grain foods, e.g., whole wheat bread, brown rice, and cereals. Eat also some portions of green and yellow vegetables, fruit, and vegetables every day.
- Choose milk, yogurt, and cottage cheese with low-fat (1% or 2% butter fat or skimmed products).
- Reduce the amount of fats like butter, oil, and margarine. Prepare your foods using less fat as possible.
- Limit salt, alcohol, and caffeine. Prepared foods contain large amounts of salt. Consuming more than two alcoholic drinks a day raises blood pressure, which is a serious risk of heart disease and stroke. Your alcohol consumption should be limited to a maximum of two drinks per day, and coffee to four cups. Women trying to become pregnant or are lactating should avoid drinking alcohol. Consume moderate amounts of beverages containing caffeine, including coffee, tea, and colas.
3. Incorporate physical activity into your life
Want to protect your health, achieve or maintain a healthy weight, have more energy, and less stress? You can achieve this through regular physical activity. Exercise helps your heart, lungs, and blood vessels function better while reducing your cholesterol and blood pressure. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Get off the bus a few stops early and walk the rest of the way. Walk through your neighborhood on your way to a shopping spree. Get up from your chair every hour to stretch your muscles and do a few squats.
Do exercise you enjoy. You can start by doing a good walk. Swimming, skating, cycling, and dancing are stimulating activities.
Anything that increases your heart rate can be considered exercise. Start slowly and combine activities that enhance strength, flexibility, and endurance. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day as often as possible during the week.
4. Know your blood pressure
Are you in great shape? Unfortunately, you may suffer from hypertension without knowing it because there are no obvious symptoms. Men and women of all ages in all sectors may be affected. Stressed people may have normal blood pressure, and calm people may be suffering from hypertension. The only way to verify this is to get your blood pressure checked by a health professional.
Hypertension is a serious health disorder that can cause heart disease and a heart attack. Hypertension can be corrected, however. If your blood pressure is high, please follow the recommendations of your doctor.
Here are some general tips that will also help your blood pressure:
- Periodically check your blood pressure
- Quit smoking
- Get regular physical activity
- Reduce your intake of alcohol or cease to consume
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Eat less salt
5. Relax and enjoy life
Sometimes, we go too hard on ourselves. Learn to relax and have fun, take the time to do fun activities and enjoy the company of friends and family members. Manage your time more efficiently and learn to maximize it to the fullest; simple exercises, meditation and deep breathing can help calm the mind.