The third week of October is National Health Education Week, which aims to educate Americans on how chronic diseases can be prevented, delayed, or alleviated through simple lifestyle changes.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chronic diseases are the leading cause of death and disability in the U.S. – 45 percent of the population has at least one chronic disease. Chronic diseases can be disabling and reduce a person’s quality of life, especially if left undiagnosed or untreated. But they are often preventable, and are frequently managed through early detection, improved diet, exercise, and treatment therapy.
In 2016, more than half of adults aged 18 or older did not meet recommendations for physical activity. And more than one-third of adults said they ate fruit less than once a day, while 38 percent of adolescents and 23 percent of adults said they ate vegetables less than once per day.
The amount of health information may seem overwhelming, but there are really only a few basic tips to keep in mind.
Eat healthy. Small changes in eating habits can make a big difference. A healthy diet means eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk products, fish, poultry, lean meats, eggs, beans, and nuts. It can also protect you from heart disease, bone loss, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and some cancers.
Get moving. Physical activity increases your chances of living longer; helps you control your blood pressure, blood sugar, and weight; raises your “good” cholesterol; and can prevent heart disease, colorectal cancer, and Type 2 diabetes. Start at a comfortable level, and once you get the hang of it aim for 2 hours and 30 minutes of activity each week. If you don’t have time for 30 minutes of exercise at one time, get moving for shorter, 10-minutes periods throughout the day.
Watch your weight. To stay at a healthy weight, you need to balance the calories you eat with the calories you burn. To lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you eat.
Get enough calcium. Calcium helps to keep bones strong and less likely to break. Adults ages 19 to 50 need at least 1,000 mg of calcium daily.
Manage stress. Worried, irritable, depressed, and unable to focus are common signs of stress. Other signs include headaches, trouble sleeping, weight gain or loss, and back pain. It’s important to manage stress in order to sleep better, improve concentration, get along better with others, and reduce neck and back pain.