What are you doing to improve your health? This is a question we all need to be constantly asking and re-evaluating for ourselves. Many of the illness and death we see in the United States are from causes that are modifiable by our own actions. You do not have to take my word for it, this is from the CDC:
“Seven of the top 10 leading causes of death are the result of chronic diseases, which are among the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems in the United States (16). Heart disease and cancer alone account for nearly half of all lives lost each year. Many of these deaths, as well as those from stroke, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses could have been delayed, and quality of life could have been improved, through health promoting behaviors, including healthy diet, physical activity, avoidance of tobacco, and other types of risk reduction.”
The actions we take today to improve our health can have an effect on preventing or delaying death due to the top cases of death in the US, including cancer. Many people falsely believe that cancer is tied to our genetics and are beyond our control, this is far from the truth. While you might be a carrier of a gene that causes cancer something has to happen to turn that gene on, something that you do or interact with in the environment. Taking steps to improve your health includes understanding your cancer risk and avoiding known risk factors for the development of cancer. There are certain, simple, first steps I can suggest that you should be taking to improve your health starting today.
The easiest first step is to cut back on your pop and sweetened drink consumption, if you haven’t already. I am not saying you can or should never have theses things to drink but that they should not be a staple part of your diet. In our family we stopped buying pop and have never regularly kept drinks like Kool-Aid or sports drinks in the house. We might still have a pop with dinner now and again but pop is no longer a staple in our diet at home. This means we drink a lot of water in our family, which is really the best thing to drink. Another easy diet step is two fold, the first is to cut back on snacking and the other is to get rid of all unhealthy snack foods. This is really easy to do by first eliminating the Doritos and replacing it with fruits and vegetables. The kids probably won’t be happy but that shouldn’t matter, what does matter is that these changes will have a profoundly positive impact on their health. When your snack options are not as exciting you will find yourself starting to snack less.
Your start down the road towards good physical activity doesn’t have to start with a gym membership, it could start with a visit to your primary care physician to make sure you don’t have any serious health concerns to be worried about though. Really the best way to introduce physical activity is by walking, in the summer months this is easy to do, just open the door and start walking. I recommend three miles is a good amount to work up to as a daily minimum. If you haven’t worked out in a long time, or ever, you might not be able to reach that amount at the start so just start slow and build it up. In the winter, keep up with walking but you might have to invest in either a gym membership, treadmill, or time to go to a mall and walk laps there. You do need to do this physical activity daily, every other day or every once in a while will not cut it. You also need to to strength train, again it doesn’t need to be in a gym but that can make it easier. I primarily use our BStrong4Life program for my strength training, and I do supplement it at home with some home equipment I have. BStrong4Life is an option for those who struggle with the time it takes to strength train effectively. Strength training is very important and the lack of it is possibly one of the biggest reasons people have the kind of joint issues they struggle with as they age.
There are other things you can do and should do to improve your health but these represent the best first steps the average person should take before jumping into a radical diet or exercise program. To reach your health goals a radical diet or exercise program might be required but many people fail these programs because they haven’t take some important first small steps before taking that giant leap. I cannot stress how important it is for you to make your health a priority and by taking these easy and small steps you will see an improvement in your health. If you have any questions about what you can do to improve your health give us a call we would be happy to give you further guidance.