LIFESTYLE

Health Tips for Healthy Living

Healthy Living Facts

This article is designed to give tips to readers about how they can improve or augment actions in their life to have a healthy lifestyle; it is not meant to be all inclusive but will include major components that are considered to be parts of a lifestyle that lead to good health. In addition to the tips about what people should do for healthy living, the article will mention some of the tips about avoiding actions (the don’ts) that lead to unhealthy living.

“Healthy living” to most people means both physical andР’В mental healthР’В are in balance or functioning well together in a person. In many instances, physical and mental health are closely linked, so that a change (good or bad) in one directly affects the other. Consequently, some of the tips will include suggestions for emotional and mental “healthy living.”

Eating and Diet

All humans have to eat food for growth and maintenance of a healthy body, but we humans have different requirements as infants, children (kids), teenagers, young adults, adults, and seniors. For example, infants may require feeding every four hours until they gradually age and begin to take in more solid foods. Eventually they develop into the more normal pattern of eating three times per day as young kids. However, as most parents know, kids, teenagers, and young adults often snack between meals. Snacking is often not limited to these age groups because adults and seniors often do the same.

Tips:

  • Eat three meals a day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner); it is important to remember that dinner does not have to be the largest meal.
  • The bulk of food consumption should consist of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk products.
  • Choose lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts (with emphasis on beans and nuts).
  • Choose foods that are low in saturatedР’В fats, trans fats,Р’В cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars; look at the labels because the first listed items on the labels comprise the highest concentrations of ingredients.
  • Control portion sizes; eat the smallest portion that can satisfy hunger and then stop eating.
  • Snacks are OK in moderation and should consist of items like fruit, whole grains, or nuts to satisfy hunger and not cause excessiveР’В weight gain.
  • Avoid sodas andР’В sugar-enhancedР’В drinksР’В because of the excessive calories in the sodas andР’В sugardrinks;Р’В dietР’В drinks may not be a good choice as they make some people hungrier and increase food consumption.
  • Avoid eating a large meal before sleeping to decrease gastroesophageal reflux and weight gain.
  • If a person is angry orР’В depressed, eating will not solve these situations and may make the underlying problems worse.
  • Avoid rewarding children with sugary snacks; such a pattern may become a lifelong habit for people.
  • Avoid heavy meals in the summer months, especially during hot days.
  • AР’В vegetarianР’В lifestyle has been promoted for a healthy lifestyle andР’В weight loss; vegetarians should check with their physicians to be sure they are getting enoughР’В vitamins,Р’В minerals, and iron in their food.
  • Cooking foods (above 165 F) destroys most harmful bacteria and other pathogens; if you choose to eat uncooked foods like fruits or vegetables, they should be thoroughly washed with running treated (safe to drink) tap water right before eating.
  • Avoid eating raw or undercooked meats of any type.

Tips for special situations:

  • People withР’В diabetesР’В should use the above tips and monitor their glucose levels as directed; try to keep the daily blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible.
  • People with unusual work schedules (night shifts, college students, military) should try to adhere to a breakfast, lunch, and dinner routine with minimal snacking.
  • People who prepare food should avoid using grease or frying foods in grease.
  • People trying toР’В lose weightР’В (body fat) should avoid all fatty and sugary foods and eat mainly vegetables, fruits, and nuts and markedly reduce his/her intake of meat and dairy products.
  • Seek medical advice early if you cannot control your weight, food intake, or if you haveР’В diabetesР’В and cannot control your blood glucose levels.

Simple Ways to Move Your Body

You can start the process of being healthy and now by adding a little more activity to your life. If you’re not ready for a structured program, start small. Every little bit counts and it all adds up to burning more calories.

  • Turn off the TV and computer. Once a week, turn off the TV and computerР’В and do something a little more physical with your family. Play games, take a walk, do almost anything that will be more active than sitting on the couch.
  • Walk more. Look for small ways to walk more. When you get the mail, take a walk around the block, take the dog for an extra outing each day, or walk on your treadmill for fiveР’В minutes before getting ready for work.
  • Do some chores. Shoveling snow, working in the garden, raking leaves, sweeping the floor—these kinds of activities may not be vigorous exercise, but they can keep you moving while getting your house in order.
  • Pace while you talk. When you’re on the phone, pace around or even do some cleaning while gabbing. This is a great way to stay moving while doing something you enjoy.
  • Be aware. Make a list of all the physical activities you do on a typical day. If you find that the bulk of your time is spent sitting, make another list of all the ways you could move more—getting up each hour to stretch or walk, walk the stairs at work, etc.

Physical Activity and Exercise

Physical activity andР’В exerciseР’В is a major contributor to a healthy lifestyle; people are made to use their bodies, and disuse leads to unhealthy living. Unhealthy living may manifest itself inР’В obesity,Р’В weakness, lack of endurance, and overall poor health that may foster disease development.

Tips:

  • RegularР’В exerciseР’В can prevent and reverse age-related decreases in muscle mass and strength, improve balance, flexibility, and endurance, and decrease the risk of falls in the elderly. Regular exercise can help prevent coronaryР’В heart disease,Р’В stroke,Р’В diabetes, obesity, andР’В high blood pressure. Regular, weight-bearing exercise can also help preventР’В osteoporosisР’В by building bone strength.
  • Regular exercise can help chronicР’В arthritisР’В sufferers improve their capacity to perform daily activities such as driving, climbing stairs, and opening jars.
  • Regular exercise can help increase self-esteem and self-confidence, decreaseР’В stressР’В andР’В anxiety, enhance mood, and improve general mental health.
  • Regular exercise can help control weight gain and in some people cause loss of fat.
  • Thirty minutes of modest exercise (walkingР’В is OK) at least three to five days a week is recommended, but the greatest health benefits come from exercising most days of the week.
  • Exercise can be broken up into smaller 10-minute sessions.
  • Start slowly and progress gradually to avoid injury or excessive soreness orР’В fatigue. Over time, build up to 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise every day.
  • People are never too old to start exercising. Even frail, elderly individuals (70-90 years of age) can improve their strength and balance with exercise.
  • Almost any type of exercise (resistance, water aerobics, walking,Р’В swimming, weights,Р’В yoga, and many others) is helpful for everybody.
  • Children need exercise; play outside of the home is a good beginning.
  • Sports for children may provide excellent opportunities for exercise, but care must be taken not to overdo certain exercises (for example, throwing too many pitches in baseball may harm a joint like the elbow or shoulder).
  • Exertion during strenuous exercise may make a person tired and sore, but ifР’В painР’В occurs, stop the exercise until theР’В painР’В source is discovered; the person may need to seek medical help and advice about continuation of such exercise.

Most individuals can begin moderate exercise, such as walking, without a medical examination. The following people, however, should consult a doctor before beginning more vigorous exercise:

  • Men over age 40 or women over age 50
  • Individuals with heart or lung disease,Р’В asthma, arthritis, orР’В osteoporosis
  • Individuals who experience chest pressure or pain with exertion, or who developР’В fatigueР’В orР’В shortness of breathР’В easily
  • Individuals with conditions that increase their risks of developing coronaryР’В heart disease, such asР’В high blood pressure, diabetes,Р’В cigarette smoking, high blood cholesterol, or having family members who had early onsetР’В heart attacksР’В and coronaryР’В heart disease
  • Individuals who are morbidlyР’В obese

Consequences of physical inactivity and lack of exercise:

  • Physical inactivity and lack of exercise are associated with heart disease and someР’В cancers.
  • Physical inactivity and lack of exercise are associated with type IIР’В diabetes mellitusР’В (also known as maturity or adult-onset,Р’В non-insulin-dependent diabetes).
  • Physical inactivity and lack of exercise contribute to weight gain.

Mental Health

Healthy living involves more than physical health, it also includes emotional or mental health. The following are some ways people can support their mental health and well-being.

Tips:

  • Get enoughР’В sleepР’В daily; the CDC recommends the following by age group (naps inclusive); 12-18 hours from birth to 2 months, 14-15 hours from 3-11 months of age, 12-18 hours for 1-3 years of age, 11-13 hours for 3-5 years of age, 10-11 hours for 5-10 years of age, eight and a half to nine and a half hours for 10-17 years of age and those 18 and above need seven to nine hours ofР’В sleep. Elderly people need about seven to nine hours but do not sleep as deeply and may awaken at night or wake early, so naps (like kids need) allow them to accumulate the total of seven to nine hours of sleep.
  • Take a walk and reflect on what you see and hear at least several times per week.
  • Try something new and often (eat a new food, try a different route to work, go to a new museum display).
  • Do some mind exercises (read, do a puzzle occasionally during the week).
  • Try to focus on a process intensely and complete a segment of it over one to several hours, then take a break and do something relaxing (walk, exercise, short nap).
  • Plan to spend some time talking with other people about different subjects.
  • Try to make some leisure time to do some things that interest you every week (hobby, sport).
  • Learn ways to say “no” when something occurs that you do not want to do or be involved with.
  • Have fun (go on a trip with someone you love, go shopping, go fishing; do not let vacation time slip away).
  • Let yourself be pleased with your achievements, both big and small (develop contentment).
  • Have a network of friends; those with strong social support systems lead healthier lives.
  • Seek help and advice early if you feel depressed, haveР’В suicidal thoughts, or consider harming yourself or others.
  • People taking medicine for mental-health problems should not stop taking these medications, no matter how “well” they feel, until they have discussed their situation with their prescribing doctor(s).

Avoidance behavior is another key to healthy living. Below are described some of the major items to avoid if a person is seeking a healthy lifestyle.

Avoid Tobacco Use

Tobacco use is the most important preventable illness and cause of death in the U.S., according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Tobacco use was estimated to be the cause of 443,000 deaths in 2010 in the U.S.

Tip:

  • StopР’В smokingР’В tobacco; start to stop today (it takes about 15 years of nonsmoking behavior to achieve a “normal” risk level for heart disease for those that smoke).
  • Stop usingР’В chewing tobaccoР’В to avoidР’В oral cancers.

Adverse consequences of tobacco use:

  • Tobacco use causes or contributes to a large number of cancers in the U.S. In men, 90% ofР’В lung cancerР’В deaths are attributable toР’В smoking; 80% in women. Tobacco use causes cancers of the lung, mouth, lip, tongue,Р’В esophagus,kidney, and bladder. It also further increases the risk ofР’В bladder cancerР’В in subjects occupationally exposed to certain organic chemicals found in the textile, leather, rubber, dye, paint, and other organic chemical industries, and further increases the risk ofР’В lung cancerР’В among subjects exposed toР’В asbestos.
  • Tobacco use causesР’В atheroscleroticР’В arterial disease (hardening and narrowing of the arteries) that can lead toР’В heart attacks,Р’В strokes, and lack of blood flow to the lower extremities. Tobacco use causes an estimated 20%-30% of coronary heart disease in the U.S. It also further increases the risk ofР’В heart attacksР’В among subjects with elevated cholesterol, uncontrolledР’В hypertension, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle.
  • Tobacco use causes an estimated 20% of chronic lung diseases in the U.S., such asР’В chronic bronchitisР’В andР’В emphysema, and causesР’В pneumoniaР’В in those with chronic lung disease. The CDC, in 2011, estimated that 90% of deaths fromР’В chronic obstructive lung diseaseР’В (COPD) were due toР’В smoking.
  • PregnantР’В women who smoke are more likely to deliverР’В babiesР’В with low birth weight.
  • Secondhand smokeР’В can cause middle-ear infections(otitis media),Р’В coughing,Р’В wheezing,Р’В bronchitis, andР’В pneumoniaР’В in babies, and aggravateР’В asthma in children.Р’В Secondhand smokeР’В (sometimes referred to asР’В passive smoking) can also cause lung cancer.

Comments and recommendations (tips):

  • Quitting smoking is difficult to accomplish; tobacco containsР’В nicotine, which is addictive. SomeР’В smokersР’В can quit “cold turkey,” but for most, quitting smoking requires a serious life-long commitment and an average of six quitting attempts before success.
  • Quitting smoking efforts may include behavior modification, counseling, use of nicotine chewing gum (Nicorette Gum), nicotine skin patches (Transderm Nicotine), or oral medications such asР’В bupropionР’В (Zyban).

Avoid Excessive Alcohol Consumption

Adverse consequences of excessive alcohol consumption:

  • Chronic, excess alcohol consumption is the major cause ofР’В liverР’В cirrhosisР’В in the U.S.
  • Liver cirrhosis can cause internal hemorrhage, fluid accumulation in the abdomen, easy bleeding andР’В bruising, muscle wasting, mentalР’В confusion, infections, and in advanced cases,Р’В coma, andР’В kidney failure.
  • Liver cirrhosis can lead toР’В liver cancer.
  • Alcohol accounts for 40%-50% of deaths from automobile accidents in the U.S.
  • Alcohol use is a significant cause of injury and death from home accidents,Р’В drowning, andР’В burns.

Comments and recommendations (tips):

There are many treatments forР’В alcoholism. But the crucial first step to recovery is for the individual to admit there is a problem and make a commitment to address the alcoholism issue. The 12-step-style self-help programs, pioneered by Alcoholics Anonymous, can be one effective treatment. Psychologists and related professionals have developed programs to help individuals better handle emotional stresses and avoid behaviors that can lead to excess drinking. Support and understanding from family members are often critical for sustained recovery. Medication can be useful for the prevention of relapses and for withdrawal symptoms following acute or prolonged intoxication.

Avoid high-risk sexual behaviors

High-risk sexual behavior can lead to the acquisition of sexually transmitted illnesses such asР’В gonorrhea,Р’В syphilis,Р’В herpes, orР’В HIVinfection. High-risk sexual behavior is also known to spreadР’В human papillomavirusР’В infection, which can lead toР’В cervical cancerР’В in women and other anogenital cancers in both men and women. High-risk sexual behaviors include the following:

Adverse consequences of high-risk sexual behavior:

Recommendations (tips):

  • Avoid unprotected sex (sex without barriers such as aР’В condom) outside an established, committed, monogamous relationship.
  • If you plan to have sex and are unsure of your partner’s health status, use a condom.

Avoid Other High-Risk Behaviors

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol orР’В drugs
  • Driving while sleep-deprived
  • Reckless driving and speeding, “road rage”
  • Driving while using cell phones, texting, or performing other tasks
  • Motorcycle (and bicycle) riding without helmets
  • Possession of firearms and guns without proper training and storage
  • Smoking in bed

Adverse consequences of high-risk behaviors:

  • Motor vehicle accidents account for 40%-50% of accidental deaths.
  • Motorcycle accidents are a major cause of serious head injuries.
  • Firearms and guns account for a significant proportion of deaths among adolescents due to maleР’В suicideР’В and homicide.
  • Smoking in bed can lead to burn injury and death.

Recommendations (tips):

  • When driving, use seat restraints on all passengers, both front and rear seats.
  • Do not drink and drive.
  • Do not drive if sleep deprived.
  • Avoid unnecessary distractions and focus on the road and traffic while driving (avoid texting, talking on cell phones, eating, applyingР’В makeup, or other distractions).
  • Use helmets while riding bicycles and motorcycles. Helmet use reduces deaths from motorcycle accidents by 30% and serious head injuries by 75%.
  • Obtain proper training in the use and storage of guns and ammunition.
  • Use smoke detectors; avoid smoking in bed.

Adverse consequences of excess sun exposure:

Recommendation (tips):

  • Avoid sunburns and sun exposure by using adequate skin protection; use brimmed hats, protective clothing, andР’В sunscreen.

Sunscreens have undergone changes, and the U.S. FDA (Food and Drug Administration) published new requirements that sunscreens needed to meet starting in 2012. Currently, the FDA suggests an effective sunscreen is rated asР’В SPFР’В 30 or higher and has both UVA and UVB protection (protection against ultraviolet waves of types A and B). In most instances, sunscreen needs to be applied every two hours and each time after a person has gone swimming.


Article By: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, Phd and Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD