Recently I had an unexpected minor surgical procedure and boy was it inconvenient! As a result, I had to limit my physical activity which literally gave me time to sit and think.

I frequently use the phrase “Your health is your wealth”. During this down time I really started to think about what this really means and just how powerful this statement really is.

I mean think about it, a health issue can affect every other area of your life!

If your health goes south it may be difficult to maintain your career, care for your family, travel or simply enjoy some of the everyday things we may take for granted. I started to think about all the “what if’s” and immediately became grateful for the health of my family and loved ones. This also made me think about my daily habits and what improvements I can make to prevent myself from developing a chronic disease that could potentially affect my ability to provide for my family.

According to the CDC, chronic diseases are among the leading causes of death and disability in the United States. The most common are heart disease, cancer, type II diabetes, obesity and arthritis. Although genetics can play a role in our predisposition of developing a chronic disease, they are not the only factor to consider.

Our lifestyle plays a factor in the risk for developing chronic diseases. I have heard people say things like “High blood pressure runs in my family or everyone in my family is overweight”. But when you take a step back and look at their lifestyle habits such as eating and physical activity levels you can see why this may be the case.

In the U.S, one-third of adults are defined as obese, which can increase your risk of developing other chronic conditions like heart disease, cancer and type II diabetes. It also can put excess stress on your joints leading to pain and arthritis.

Now am I saying that eating right and exercising can prevent everything? Of course not but living a healthier lifestyle can help reduce your risk.

So you may ask…..What can I do to reduce my risk and improve my lifestyle habits?

Physical Activity

According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) the recommended minimum amount of physical activity for adults ages 18-65 is 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise 5 days a week or 20 minutes of vigorous activity 3 days a week. If you work out harder you can work out less! Moderate activities include walking, yoga, dancing, golfing, shooting baskets and gardening. Vigorous activities include activities like jogging or running, step aerobics, and competitive sports (football, basketball, soccer etc.) Resistance training is recommended 2 times a week performing at least 8 to 10 exercises with 8-12 repetitions for each exercise.  

One thing to note is that these are the minimum recommendations; for weight loss you should increase the amount of time or frequency that you exercise.  

Consume recommended servings of fruits and veggies

It is recommended that adult women get 1.5 to 2 cups of fruit and 2-2.5 cups of veggies per day. Try to stick with fresh or frozen organic fruits and veggies as this can help limit the amount of pesticides you are exposed to.  Canned options tend to have added sugars and preservatives. I mean do you really want to eat a green bean that can sit in a can for three years?? No shade but when you know better you do better….right?

Getting daily recommended servings of fruits and veggies helps to provide our body with important vitamins and minerals needed to keep us healthy. They also provide antioxidants which can help prevent free radicals from damaging healthy cells. Free radicals are unstable molecules that will quickly try to attach themselves to the nearest stable compound ultimately causing it to become unstable itself. An overabundance of free radicals can cause serious damage to healthy cells leading to development of disease and premature aging.

Eating your daily servings can also help contribute to your fiber intake. Fiber helps to keep you regular and aides your body in getting rid of waste. A diet low in fiber can increase your risk for colon cancer.  

Limit Red Meat

Research has shown that higher consumption of red meat can increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Red meat is high in saturated fat which can increase your blood cholesterol and lead to fatty plaque buildup (atherosclerosis) in the arteries. As this plaque builds up it can block the arteries and lead to heart attack or stroke.

This doesn’t mean you can’t eat red meat if you enjoy a nice burger or steak occasionally, you just don’t want to eat red meat every day. Also try to stick to leaner cuts of meat. If you do decide to cut red meat altogether be sure you are getting enough iron from other sources in your diet.

Drinking Plenty of Water

Our body tissues need plenty of water. Water helps to assist cells in performing important biological reactions that help keep our body functioning properly. If we become dehydrated it can have serious life-threatening consequences.

It is recommended to drink half your body weight in water each day. You can also get water from fruits and veggies as they are high water content.

Deal with Stress in a Healthy Way

We all deal with daily stressors from work, family and things just not going as planned. Stress can have serious physiological consequences overtime if we do not deal with it in a healthy way.

Healthy ways to deal with stress include:

  • Exercising
  • Getting some fresh air
  • Taking a relaxing hot bath
  • Listening to your favorite playlist and relaxing
  • Meditation and/or prayer

It’s important to remember to regularly take time for yourself and relax. There are so many things that stimulate us mentally sometimes you just need to detach.

Get Plenty of Sleep

Awww…..sleep, I love it! Toddlers just don’t get it, I would love to take a daily nap! Sleep has many benefits and not getting enough can result in health issues. It is recommended that women get at least 7 to 8 hour of sleep per night.

Benefits of getting plenty of sleep include:

  • Improves your mood
  • Allows your body time to reset and heal itself
  • Helps to maintain a healthy weight
  • Improves mental clarity and attentiveness
  • Helps to lower stress

As you can see, there are many ways you can improve your lifestyle. Try to make small changes over time, this will help you to stick with the changes and develop an overall healthier lifestyle that reduces your risk for chronic disease. 

Find Health in Every Day,

Dr. Lindsay

Disclaimer: The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images and information, contained on or available through this web site is for general information purposes only.