Building preventive health habits
Right now health is on everyone’s mind, which makes it a great time to build useful preventive health habits. Under normal circumstances, it can be easy to push preventive health from your mind. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has raised awareness of many practices that can help you stay healthy long after the immediate risk of COVID-19 has lessened.
Keep up the good behavior!
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) outlined some very simple and effective behaviors to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. These good hygiene habits can help protect you from many contagious diseases, like influenza and common colds — while also aiding in keeping others healthy.
- Wash your hands often, especially after touching frequently used surfaces like doorknobs, handles and countertops.
- Avoid touching your face.
- Sneeze and cough into your elbow, or a tissue if you have one available. Throw away used tissues right away.
- Disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects often.
- Stay home if you are sick and ask that others keep a safe distance — 6 feet or more — when visiting you – and refrain from visiting at all if they aren’t feeling well.
Prioritizing prevention every day
As we eventually return to daily routines, there are even more ways to do your part to stay healthy. Daily lifestyle choices are the most potent preventive medicine. Over time, healthy everyday routines help to prevent illness and promote wellness. It’s never too late to make important changes that can positively impact your quality of life.
- Exercise – Research shows that walking for 30 minutes a day can significantly improve your health and does not need to be strenuous to be effective. Start slowly and build up endurance. Add resistance training twice a week to strengthen muscles – you can even use household objects, like soup cans, to get started.
- Eat a nutritious diet – To keep your heart healthy, eat a diet low in saturated and trans fats, refined sugar, processed foods and sodium. To maintain a healthy weight, include fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, lean protein and water in your daily diet. Add foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, several times a week.
- Avoid smoking and alcohol use – Not only does smoking contribute to heart disease, but it can age your skin, hair and nails faster, too. Drinking too much alcohol increases the chance of falls, gastrointestinal illness and liver disease. If you enjoy alcohol, talk to your doctor about what amount is right for you.
- Maintain a positive attitude – Relationships are important for nurturing emotional health and easing stress or loneliness. Spend time with your friends, children and grandchildren — or even a pet — as often as you can. If you’re unable to spend time in person, a phone call or video chat can help you stay connected.
- Get regular physicals and keep up with immunizations and health screenings – An ongoing relationship with a primary care provider can help you develop healthier habits, discuss mental health and identify illness and injury earlier.
No one is perfect, so don’t be discouraged if you find it hard to make lifestyle changes. Talk to your doctor about strategies to help you achieve long-term health so you can enjoy life to the fullest.