Most of us take our health for granted until things take a turn for the worse. While there’s no surefire way to prevent disease and illness, there are steps you can take to help reduce your risk of the top killers: heart disease and cancer.
Here are four things you can do to prevent illness and disease.
1. Stay Active
Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health, especially as you age. Staying active will not only keep your muscles and joints in good shape, but will also help you maintain a healthy weight.
Obesity affects one-third of the adult population in the United States, and is one of the leading causes of death. It puts you at risk of more than 30 chronic health issues, like: high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, gallstones, high cholesterol, fatty liver, sleep apnea, stress incontinence, GERD, asthma and degenerative joint disease.
Aim for about 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week, or about five, 30-minute workout sessions.
Any activity that gets your heart rate up counts as exercise, so choose something you enjoy. From walking to biking, yard work and water aerobics, there are so many ways to stay active.
Exercise will help reduce the risk of early death by 30%.
2. Eat Healthy
Diet is just as – if not more – important as exercise in preventing illness and disease. Food has the power to heal, or it has the power to poison. Making smart food choices and eating healthy portions will help you stave off of disease while maintaining a healthy weight.
Healthy food choices include:
- Lean meats
- Whole grains
- Low-fat or fat-free dairy
Limit your sugar intake to prevent obesity and diabetes. Remember that carbohydrates are turned into sugar, so you’ll also want to limit your intake of bread, pasta and white potatoes.
3. Quit Smoking
Smoking is a deadly habit. It doesn’t matter how many years you’ve been smoking; quitting now will improve your health and quality of life almost immediately.
According to WebMD:
- Your carbon monoxide levels in the blood fall to a normal level within 12 hours of quitting.
- Your heart rate drops to a normal level within 20 minutes of stopping smoking.
- Within 2-3 weeks of quitting, your risk of a heart attack declines and your lung function starts to improve.
- After one year of quitting, your risk of heart disease is cut in half.
It’s never too late to stop smoking and reclaim your health.
4. Keep Calm
Stress is a silent killer. Over time and in excessive amounts, stress can lead to heart attacks, high blood pressure, depression and anxiety. A lifetime of exposure to psychological stress is also associated with inflammation in the heart.
Make it a point to de-stress every day. Whether it’s through mediation, yoga, reading, engaging in a hobby or just sitting quietly, do something to unwind and relax each day.
Even just five minutes a day can have a huge impact on your overall emotional well-being. A happy, healthy mind will support a happy, healthy body.