How To Take Charge Of Your Health
(guide to good health)
How To Take Charge of Your Health
Every day, you have a chance to make good choices about your health. This section tells you how to make good choices.
Choosing a Healthy Lifestyle
"I knew I wanted to lose weight, so I came up with a plan. I set my goals for a month at a time. The first month, I decided to trade my usual high-fat desserts for low-fat yogurt or a piece of fruit. I also set a goal of walking 30 minutes a day, 4 days a week. As the months went by, I improved my habits even further. I've lost 7 pounds, and I'm determined to keep going."
You may ask yourself, "How do I begin to improve my health habits?" A good way to start is to set small goals instead of large ones that you won't be able to meet. For example, instead of setting a goal of losing 15 pounds in the next year, set some smaller goals for eating better and being more active. You may decide to trade your morning donut for a bowl of cereal or start taking the stairs instead of the elevator at work.
Reducing Your Risk for Heart Disease
Many of the sections in this booklet have information to help you reduce your risk for heart disease.
Overall, you can reduce your risk if you:
Maintain a healthy weight.
Stay physically active.
Control your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
If you have diabetes, control your disease.
Should You Take Aspirin for a Healthy Heart?
For people who are at high risk for heart disease, taking aspirin every day or every other day can help reduce that risk.
For most people, taking aspirin is safe. But for some, aspirin increases the chance of bleeding in the stomach or intestines. And there is a small chance that aspirin will increase your risk for some kinds of stroke.
Talk to your doctor or nurse to find out if taking aspirin is right for you.
Watching Your Weight
Being overweight increases your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Your doctor can tell you what you should weigh for your height.
To stay at a healthy weight, you need to balance the number of calories you eat with the number you burn off by your activities. You can get to your healthy weight and stay there by doing two things: eating right and being physically active. The next two sections,"Eating Right" and "Keeping Active," provide some helpful hints.
Keep track of your weight. Use the Checkups and Tests Record (PDF File, 21 KB, PDF Help; Text Version).
Eating the right foods and the right amounts can help you live a longer, healthier life. Many illnesses and conditions?such as heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes?can be prevented or controlled by eating right. A healthy diet also provides the vitamins and minerals you need.
It is never too late to start eating right. Here are some helpful tips.
Eat a variety of foods, including:
Vegetables, especially dark-green leafy and deep-yellow vegetables, such as spinach or carrots.
Fruits, such as melons, berries, and citrus fruits, or juices, such as orange or grapefruit.
Meat, poultry, eggs, fish, and dried beans (for example, navy, kidney, or black), especially products low in fat, such as lean meat and poultry prepared without skin.
Dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, and cheese, especially low-fat or fat-free dairy products.
Grains, especially whole grains, and legumes, such as lima beans or green peas.
Limit calories and saturated fat.
Foods high in saturated fats are high in calories, so they can cause weight gain. They also increase your cholesterol levels. Try to limit:
High-fat dairy products such as ice cream, butter, cheese, cream, and whole milk.
Meats high in fat.
Palm and coconut oils and lard.
Unsaturated fats do not raise cholesterol levels. Foods with unsaturated fat include vegetable oils, fish, avocados, and many nuts.
Watch portion sizes.
Don't choose "super" or other oversized portions. Be aware of how much you eat.
Keeping ActPhysical activity can help prevent:
High blood pressure.
Type 2 diabetes.
Osteoporosis (thinning bones).
Mental health problems such as depression.
Physical activity helps you feel better overall.
What to Do
All kinds of physical activity will help you stay healthy, whether it is moderate or vigorous. It's a good idea to aim for at least moderate activity?such as brisk walking, raking leaves, house cleaning, or playing with children?for 20 to 30 minutes most days of the week. Generally, the more active you are, the healthier you will become.
How to Get Started and Keep at It
If you have not been active, start slowly.
Choose something that fits into your daily life.
Choose an activity you like, or try a new one. Activities such as dancing, swimming, or biking can be fun.
Ask a friend to exercise with you, or join a group.
Make time in your day for physical activity.
If the weather is bad, try an exercise show on TV, watch an exercise tape, walk in the mall, or work around the house.