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Your good day-to-day choices add up to a healthy lifestyle

Aging Well | Wellness | April 21, 2021
Family of adults hiking in the summer
Check out the key areas where little steps can result in big benefits.

There is a range of things you can do to manage your health. You can help prevent some illnesses or reduce symptoms of some conditions by eating healthy, fresh food and being physically active. It's a good idea to see your doctor at least once a year, and you can stay up-to-date by reading current and accurate health information.

Your regular day-to-day choices can make all the difference in your health.

Benefits of a healthy lifestyle

What and when to eat, how much to exercise and managing stress can help you feel good…not only mentally, but physically. In addition, all those “little” actions add up to a healthy lifestyle that can pay off in the long run.

Here are just a few of the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle:

  • Lower risk of most diseases, including heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
  • Improved joint stability, flexibility, strength, stamina and range of movement.
  • Greater flexibility, balance and coordination as you age.
  • Stronger bone density, which helps prevent osteoporosis and cracked or broken bones.
  • Reduced symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression, and improved sense of wellness and mood.
  • Improved self-esteem and self-confidence.
  • Improved sharpness and clarity of mind, including memory.
  • Improved immune system to avoid illnesses.
  • Improved ability to recover from illness.
  • Increased length and quality of life.

What does a healthy lifestyle include?

Nutrition 

What you eat affects your overall physical and mental health. Eating a well-balanced diet that is high in fruits and vegetables, and low in processed foods and fats, will help you to maintain a healthy weight.

For professional advice, including targeted nutrition and dietary recommendations to improve your overall health or to help you manage specific health needs, contact a nutritionist or dietitian.

Physical activity

Studies show that regular physical activity improves your overall health and reduces your risk for chronic disease. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day. Being physically fit means you are less likely to get injured doing physical activity or in everyday life. If you do get injured, you are likely to recover quicker than if you were unfit.

See your doctor for a medical check-up before starting any new fitness program, particularly if you are over 40 years old, overweight, haven’t exercised for a long time or suffer from a chronic medical condition.

Stress management  

Good mental health can help your physical health. The reverse is also true. Good physical health affects your mental health. Did you know good nutrition and regular exercise can guard against depression, sharpen your memory and stabilize your mood?

Person painting on a canvasSmoking and alcohol shouldn’t be the first choice as tools for managing stress. Both types of substances can become addictive and leave you feeling worse, not better.

Art therapy, music and a host of other options can help you cope with too much stress in your life.

A low-stress life can help you sleep better, which leads to more energy. Maintaining caring relationships can also promote positive feelings about life and help you experience a sense of belonging.

For professional mental health advice, talk to your doctor, who may direct you to a psychologist, counselor or psychiatrist.

Hygiene

“Cleanliness is next to godliness” isn’t just an old saying. Washing your hands is one of the most effective means of stopping the spread of disease. Beyond frequent hand-washing throughout the day, bathe regularly and brush your teeth twice a day. Regular dental checkups will also help you avoid or treat tooth decay and gum disease.

For hygiene concerns, speak to your doctor who may refer you to another healthcare professional or a dentist for good dental health.

Vaccinations  

Immunization is the simplest and most effective way of protecting children and adults against various diseases, including COVID-19. Vaccinations equip your immune system to fight diseases, either preventing the disease altogether or reducing the severity of a disease. Immunization also protects the community by helping to prevent the spread of serious infectious diseases.Nurse gives a person a shot

Talk with your doctor about vaccinations recommended for you and your family. Immunizations may be done at the clinic or a local pharmacy.

Regular health checks

Regular health checks are an important part of your personal health management at all stages of life, and annual health checks are more important as you get older. The best way to stay on top of your health is to see your general practitioner for preventive health checks and treatment when you get sick. In between visits, take note of any changes to share during your next visit.

Schedule a checkup at least once a year. If you have one or more condition that requires close monitoring, your doctor might want to see you more often. In between visits, let your provider know when you have new medical concerns.

Reward yourself

Are you taking steps to live a healthier lifestyle? It’s not easy but it’s worth it. Set realistic, well-planned goals to keep you focused and motivated.

Two happy people appear to celebrateOften small wins make the larger goals seem less daunting. Learn from your failures, adjust your goals and keep going. Record your progress to stay on track and motivated. See what’s working for you.

Keeping a record of what you are doing is also an easy way to keep your doctor informed. A simple notebook will do the job, but there are also plenty of free, easy-to-use online trackers and mobile phone apps that can help.

Find more information at https://www.opm.gov/healthcare-insurance/special-initiatives/managing-my-own-health

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