Wellness Wednesday: Making New Year’s Resolutions You Can Keep

HappyNewYearIt’s that time again. A new year is just ahead and millions of people vow to lose weight, get fit, stop smoking, etc. It’s the New Year’s Resolution, which often includes new gym memberships and weight loss program sign-ups that are forgotten by February.

But you don’t have to fall into this trap. You can make small resolutions that are easier to keep and can help you down the path towards a better you.

Make healthier food choices. Grab a healthy snack such as fruit, nuts, or low-fat cheese. Maybe switch out one ‘bad’ treat a day for a good treat. You might start to feel better and have more energy. And if you splurge once in a while, don’t give up. All is not lost.

Be more active to improve overall health. You don’t need to join a gym to get healthier. Try simple things such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Park farther away from your office so you have to walk a little more. Be active for at least 2½ hours a week. That’s roughly 20 minutes a day. Maybe take a 10 minute walk at lunch time and another 10 minutes of activity in the evening.

iStock_000018054489_LargeBe smoke-free. If you are ready to quit, call 1.800.QUIT.NOW (1.800.784.8669) for free resources, including free quit coaching, a free quit plan, free educational materials, and referrals to other resources where you live.

Get enough sleep. Remember that sleep is a necessity, not a luxury. Your body heals itself and recuperates during sleep.

Always use seat belts and use child safety seats and booster seats that are appropriate for your child’s age and weight.

Lower the risk of foodborne illness as you prepare meals for your family.

Gather and share family health history. It’s important for you and your family to keep track of illnesses or disease and to know about any family health risks.

iStock_000040286742_LargeGet pets vaccinated and keep pets healthy. Our pets are part of our family. Keeping them healthy helps ensure they will be by your side for a while.

Make an appointment for an annual check-up, vaccination or screening.

Wash your hands often with soap and water to prevent the spread of infection and illness. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Wellness Wednesday: Live Healthier and Lower Your Risk for Type 2 Diabetes

Did you know that simply by living a healthier lifestyle, you could dramatically reduce the possibility of developing Type 2 diabetes?

iStock_000014865391_LargeIn fact, recent studies by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) report that by engaging in physical activity, eating a healthier diet, maintaining an appropriate body weight, limiting alcohol consumption and not smoking you can cut your risk of diabetes by as much as 80 percent.

November is American Diabetes Month and Mercy Health System would like to take this opportunity to encourage you to care for yourself, and your loved ones, by reminding you of the importance of preventive care.

NIH studies show that having a body weight appropriate for your height and age by itself reduced the risk of developing diabetes by 60 to 70 percent. Eating a healthier diet reduced the risk by about 15 percent and not smoking lowered the risk by about 20 percent.

Here are some tips from the NIH and the National Diabetes Education Program to help you make gradual lifestyle changes that can help you prevent Type 2 diabetes:

If you are overweight, set a weight loss goal you can meet (check in with your doctor before starting any weight loss plan).

  • Aim to lose about five to seven percent of your current weight and keep it off
  • Keep track of your daily food intake and physical activity in a logbook and review it daily
  • For support, invite family and friends to get involved

Make healthier food choices every day.

  • Keep healthier snacks, such as fruit and vegetables, at home and at work
  • Pack healthier lunches for you and your family
  • Choose low-fat diary products
  • Eat whole-grain cereals, breads, crackers, brown rice, pasta or oatmeal
  • Select lean meats and poultry
  • Choose more fish, beans, peas, nuts and seeds as protein sources

Strive to become more physically active. It’s easy to build physical activity into your day:

  • Take a brisk walk during lunchtime
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator or park farther away from your office
  • Join a community program like The YMCA as a family and choose activities that everyone can enjoy

Restrict alcohol consumption. Your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes rises with an increase in alcohol consumption – limit yourself to no more than one drink a day.

If you smoke, quit (and don’t quit quitting). Smokefree.gov offers some great tips and a step-by-step guide on how to begin.

Be sure to embrace a healthy spirit. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), high levels of stress can have negative effects on your blood sugar levels. That’s why it’s important to practice good relaxation techniques. The ADA recommends the following:

  • Breathing exercises: Sit or lie down and uncross your legs and arms. Take in a deep breath. Then push out as much air as you can then relax your muscles. Do these exercises for a minimum of five minutes at least once a day.
  • Replace negative thoughts with positive ones: If a negative thought is going through your mind, replace it with something that makes you happy or peaceful. You may also visualize a favorite nature scene to lessen anxiety and promote more serenity.

Last, but not least, getting annual physicals and tests from your doctor is key in sustaining your health and helping prevent diseases like diabetes. Having a Primary Care Physician (PCP) who can coordinate your care is vital to your good health. A PCP typically specializes in family medicine, internal medicine or general practice.

If you don’t have a PCP, finding one is easy! Just visit your insurance carrier’s website, look for the “find a doctor” area and follow the instructions.

To find a Mercy Health physician, visit www.mercyhealth.org and use our Find-A-Doctor tool.


More Information:

Taking Care of Type 2 Diabetes [PDF]

Wellness Wednesday: Cholesterol Screenings and Knowing Your Numbers Can Help Lower Risk of Heart Disease 

Red puzzle heart

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) high blood cholesterol affects more than 71 million Americans. It is a serious condition that increases your risk for heart disease. In fact, the higher your cholesterol level, the greater the risk.

Lowering cholesterol levels that are too high reduces your risk for developing heart disease and lowers your chance of having a heart attack.

That’s why, during National Cholesterol Education Month, Mercy Health System would like to encourage you to care for yourself and your loved ones by reminding you of the importance of regular health screenings.

cholesterolAccording to the National Institutes of Health, everyone age 20 and older should have their cholesterol measured at least once every five years.

High cholesterol and its complications can be prevented or delayed by knowing and properly managing your cholesterol levels. You can have high cholesterol without even knowing it. The best way to find out if your numbers are within a healthy range for your gender, height and age is to have an annual physical.

Having a Primary Care Physician (PCP) who can coordinate your care is vital to your good health. A PCP typically specializes in family medicine, internal medicine or general practice. If you don’t have a PCP, finding one is easy! Just visit your insurance carrier’s website, look for the “find a doctor” area and follow the instructions.

To find a Mercy Health physician, go to www.mercyhealth.org/find-a-doctor.

More information …

CDC Fact Sheet on High Cholesterol
www.cdc.gov/cholesterol
www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/ldl_hdl

Wellness Wednesday: Making Healthy Choices Every Day

Changing habits can have a big positive impact on your health.

Be physically active.

Walking briskly, mowing the lawn, playing team sports, and biking are just a few examples of how you can get moving. If you are not already physically active, start small and work up to 30 minutes a day of moderate physical activity for most days of the week.

Eat a healthy diet.

Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products are healthy choices. Lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts are good, too. Try to eat foods that are low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt, and added sugars.

Stay at a healthy weight.

Try to balance the calories you take in with the calories you burn with your physical activities. As you age, eat fewer calories and increase your physical activity. This will prevent gradual weight gain over time.

Drink alcohol in moderation or not at all.

Current dietary guidelines for Americans recommend that if you choose to drink alcoholic beverages, you do not exceed 2 drinks per day for men (1 drink per day for women). Some people should not drink alcoholic beverages at all, including

  • Individuals who cannot restrict their drinking to moderate levels.
  • Individuals who plan to drive, operate machinery, or take part in other activities that requires attention, skill, or coordination.
  • Individuals taking prescription or over-the-counter medications that can interact with alcohol.
  • Individuals with specific medical conditions.
  • Persons recovering from alcoholism.

Don’t smoke.

For tips on how to quit, go to www.smokefree.gov. To talk to someone about how to quit, call the National Quitline: 1-800-QUITNOW (784-8669).

Take aspirin to avoid a heart attack.

If you are at risk for a heart attack (you’re over 45, smoke, or have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or a family history of heart disease), check with your doctor and find out if taking aspirin is the right choice for you.

Source: Stay Healthy. December 2012. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/patients-consumers/patient-involvement/healthy-men/healthy/index.html

Wellness Wednesday: Taking Steps to Prevent Prostate Cancer

swimmingoldermanDid you know that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men?

June is Men’s Health Month and Mercy Health System would like to take this opportunity to encourage you to care for yourself, and your loved ones, by reminding you of the importance of preventive care.

As they say, “the best defense is a good offense,” and thankfully, disease prevention begins with a variety of factors including understanding the risks—the ones we can control and the ones we can’t. According to the American Cancer Society, risk factors for prostate cancer include:

  • Age: The chance of having prostate cancer rises rapidly after age 50. Nearly two out of three prostate cancers are found in men over the age of 65.
  • Race/ethnicity: Prostate cancer occurs more often in African-American men than in men of other races. African-American men are also more likely to be diagnosed at an advanced stage and are more than twice as likely to die of prostate cancer as white men. Prostate cancer occurs less often in Asian-American and Hispanic/Latino men than in non-Hispanic whites. The reasons for these racial and ethnic differences are not clear.
  • Family history: Prostate cancer seems to run in some families, which suggests that there may be an inherited or genetic factor. Having a father or brother has been diagnosed more than doubles a man’s risk of developing this disease.
  • Diet: Men who eat a lot of red meat or high-fat dairy products appear to have a slightly higher chance of getting prostate cancer. These men also tend to eat fewer fruits and vegetables. Doctors are not sure which of these factors is responsible for raising the risk.
  • Obesity: Most studies have not found that being obese is linked with a higher risk of getting prostate cancer. Some studies have found that obese men have a lower risk of getting a less dangerous form of the disease, but a higher risk of getting more aggressive one. The reasons for this are not clear.

While knowing the physical risk factors is key in helping prevent any disease, so is maintaining a healthy spirit. For example:

  • Remaining optimistic. Research shows that happiness and a positive attitude are associated with lower rates of disease. Focus on your thoughts—stop negative ones and replace them with positive ones.
  • Controlling stress. Stress relievers like deep breathing and muscle relaxation exercises and keeping a journal, can be helpful in controlling the impact stress has on your body.
  • Doing everything in moderation. Don’t try to do too much at one time—make sure to have time for proper nutrition, sleep, work and play.
  • Creating a network. Maintaining a close circle of family and friends can provide you with support when you need it.

Lastly, getting annual screening tests from your Primary Care Physician (PCP) is vital to sustaining your health and helping prevent diseases. Having a Primary Care Physician (PCP) who can coordinate your care is vital to your good health. If you don’t have a PCP, just visit your insurance carrier’s website, look for the “find a doctor” area and follow the instructions.

To find a Mercy Health physician, go to www.mercyhealth.org/find-a-doctor.

Wellness Wednesday: Physical Activity Offers Great Benefits to Those Living with Disease

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADid you know that according to the American Heart Association (AHA), active people who have high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes or other chronic diseases are more likely to live healthier for a longer period of time than inactive people with the same conditions?

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) says that physical activity can help lower your blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It also reduces your risk for stroke, relieves stress and anxiety and strengthens your heart, muscles and bones.

These benefits are important for anyone, but especially for those who with chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes and depression.

Because of the symptoms they experience, those who live with illness may find it challenging to get regular physical activity. The ADA and AHA offer the following tips:

  • Look for chances to be more active during the day. Walk the mall before shopping, take the stairs instead of the escalator or take 10-15 minute breaks for walking or some other activity while watching TV or sitting.
  • Don’t get discouraged if you stop for a while. Get started again gradually and work up to your old pace.
  • Don’t participate in physical activities right after meals or when it’s very hot or humid.
  • It is recommended that diabetics check blood glucose before and after activity (if it’s too low, eat a piece of fruit, a few crackers or glass of milk) and carry a snack to eat if you’ll be active for a few hours or more. If you have one, wear your medical alert I.D.
  • You can do this even if you’ve been sedentary for a long time, are overweight, have a high risk of coronary heart disease or some other chronic health problem, see your doctor for a medical evaluation before beginning a physical activity program.

In addition to getting regular physical activity, developing and maintaining a relationship with a Primary Care Physician (PCP) who can coordinate your care is vital to your good health.

A PCP typically specializes in family medicine, internal medicine or general practice. If you don’t have a PCP, finding one is easy! Just visit your insurance carrier’s website, look for the “find a doctor” area and follow the instructions.

When you’re being treated for a disease or condition, it may not always be easy to decide where to go for care. For anything that is considered a life-threatening situation (like chest pain or sudden and severe pain) it’s best to go to the emergency room. For less severe matters that still require immediate attention, if you can’t get in to see your PCP, going to an urgent care facility can save you time and money.

Even if you require emergency or urgent care for your health situation, it’s always best to have a relationship with a PCP who knows your history and understands what is happening with your health over time.

To find a Mercy Health physician, go to www.mercyhealth.org/find-a-doctor.