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Self Care Checklist
Here are self care steps recommended by experts. Make a promise to yourself to do the following – choose where you want to start on your path.
- Exercise, and at the very least, walk.
Exercise may be the most important step on a path to good health. Burning calories keeps your metabolism from slowing down and helps to prevent that last meal you ate from turning to unwanted fat. It has also been shown to improve mood by stimulating various brain chemicals that help you to feel happier and more relaxed than you were before you worked out. Of course, more exercise leads to better health, but even a brisk walk can do wonders for your body. As long as you are able to manage a regular exercise regimen of sustained activity for 30 minutes a day, you’re in good shape.
- Sleep regular hours
. The restorative powers of sleep are an amazing thing, and giving your body an adequate chance to recharge is one of the easiest things you can do for yourself to stay healthy. Sleeping gives your body the chance to heal and repair itself, so give it the rest it deserves.
- Eat more vegetables, cut down on red meat, caffeine, sugar and salt. You’ve heard this a million times before, but trading in red meat, caffeine, sugar and salt for vegetables is a keystone to good health. Unlike sweet and savory foods, vegetables are low in harmful fats and calories, and they are rich in essential vitamins and nutrients like potassium, dietary fiber, folate, Vitamin A, Vitamin E and Vitamin C. Because they are low calorie and high nutrient foods, eating a vegetable rich diet can help prevent chronic diseases and health problems such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, strokes, kidney stones, bone loss, and even certain cancers like mouth, stomach and colon-rectum cancer.
- Never skip breakfast
. Eating breakfast is another easy step you can take on the road to good health. You may not think that eating breakfast is all that essential to being healthy, but as the old saying goes, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” Studies have shown that people can lower their cholesterol just by eating a healthy breakfast. Things like fruit, oatmeal and whole grain cereals absorb cholesterol in the intestines for removal from the body. More importantly, though, when we skip breakfast we force our bodies to go 10-16 hours without an outside source of energy. This kicks the body’s regulatory system into starvation mode, so when it finally does get some food, it stores as much of it as it can as fats. It also aggravates cravings to binge eat higher fat and higher carbohydrate foods, resulting in consuming far more calories than your body needs. If you are unsure what constitutes a healthy breakfast, check out some of these recipes here.
- Eat a balanced diet.
We’ve all seen a food pyramid at some point in our lives, but how many of us actually eat a balanced diet? Eating the right quantities and types of food will help you to lose weight and feel healthier. For a closer look at what makes up a complete meal and how to eat healthier, visit http://www.dietaryguidelines.gov.
- Drink water.
Water is involved in every function in the body, including circulation, digestion, absorption of nutrients and the transmission of the electrical currents that control our nerves, muscles and hormones. Water is so vital to our day-to-day functioning that it makes up 60% of our body’s mass. While we get water in many of the foods we eat and beverages we drink, there is really no substitute for pure water. It is recommended that you drink eight 8oz. glasses of water a day.
- Don’t stress out
. Stress is among the most common health risks affecting people today. Work, family, and life in general can put an enormous strain on an individual, and that strain frequently manifests itself in physical symptoms. Some symptoms are relatively mild, like chronic headaches and increased susceptibility to colds, more exposure to chronic stress can lead to more serious health problems. It may be surprising, but stress has been linked to depression, diabetes, hair loss, heart disease, hyperthyroidism, obesity, obsessive-compulsive or anxiety disorder, sexual dysfunction, tooth and gum disease, ulcers, and possibly even cancer. To learn more about the effects of stress on your life and to find ways to manage it, visit www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/stress
- Wash your hands often.
Hand washing is easy to do and it's one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of many types of infections and illnesses. Clean hands can stop germs from spreading from one person to another and throughout an entire community. For more information on the importance of hand washing visit http://www.cdc.gov/Features/HandWashing/.
- Toss the bad habits.
Tossing bad habits like smoking and drinking more than one alcoholic drink a day are among the most difficult changes for people to make in their lives. Many bad habits are physically and mentally addictive, and giving them up is a tremendous test of will, but one of the best things you can do for your health (and your wallet) is to try. There are many services available to help you get on the track to better health. Visit our "Prevention Resources” page for helpful links on quitting today.
- Get regular medical and dental checkups and know your numbers . Regular health exams and tests can help find problems before they start. They can also help find problems early, when your chances for treatment and cure are better. By getting the right health services, screenings, and treatments, you are taking steps that help your chances for living a longer, healthier life. Your age, family history, lifestyle choices, and other important factors impact what and how often you need services and screenings, but even the healthiest people need to get regular check ups. To make the most of your doctors’ visit, it’s important to keep track of your health information like body mass index (BMI), cholesterol and blood pressure. Knowing your numbers will help your doctor to make the best choices for your health.
Interested in finding out what your health risks are and what you can do about them? Go to www.keepmewell.org!
. (2011) Ten Ways to Stay Healthy. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/HealthyLivingIndex/HealthyLivingIndex. (2011). Healthy Lifestyle. Retrieved from