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Adopt a healthier lifestyle in 2017 

If you are looking to adopt a healthier lifestyle in 2017, the suggestions below could help. The process can be overwhelming, but according to those who have been successful, it is less intimidating when taken in small steps.

Changes in eating habits, physical activity and getting enough sleep result in better overall health and well-being.

Nutrition

Proper nutrition can help protect against diseases including obesity, Type 2 diabetes, some cancers, high blood pressure, bone loss and heart disease.

Tips to incorporate into everyday life include:

  • Keep a food journal for help in identifying bad food choices.
  • Choose a variety of foods from each category:  grains, vegetables, fruits, milk, and meats/beans.
  • Choose fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products.
  • Choose low-fat or lean meats, fish and poultry.
  • Trade processed sugary snacks for fresh, frozen or dried fruit.
  • Some ways to consume more vegetables include: Add lettuce and tomatoes to sandwiches; designate a day or two each week as vegetarian days; keep pre-cut veggies on hand for quick snacks; enjoy a green salad with dinner; and purchase fresh veggies in season for the best flavor.
  • Choose whole-grain cereals, breads, pasta, and crackers.
  • Replace sugar and sodium filled sodas with water.

Exercise

Regular physical activity can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Additionally, exercise helps maintain bone mass, reduces stress, helps prevent osteoporosis, improves mood, improves joint stability and enhances self-esteem. The benefits are worth the lifestyle changes.lifestyle

Ways to get moving include:

  • Check with primary care physician before beginning an exercise program.
  • Turn off the TV and play with the kids.
  • If turning off the TV is too difficult, use the time to do calisthenics, walk in place, stretch  or lift small weights.
  • Take advantage of opportunities to walk more – take a short walk when outside getting the mail, walk the dog twice a day instead of once or pace while talking on the phone.
  • Do yard work such as raking leaves, weeding and mowing.
  • Find an exercise buddy.
  • Aim for two hours and 30 minutes of moderate exercise each week – walking, dancing, raking leaves, for example.
  • Perform muscle-strengthening activities twice each week.

Sleep

Most adults need seven to eight hours of sleep each night to perform at their highest level.  Getting the proper amount of sleep can help protect against illness, boost brainpower, lower the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease, improve mood and help with sound decision-making.

Outside influences, behaviors and lifestyle including stress, pain, schedule changes, caffeine, diet and travel can cause sleep problems.

Tips to ensure a good night’s sleep:

  • Keep a regular schedule, going to bed and getting up around the same time every day.
  • Turn off the TV and computer at a pre-determined time every night.
  • Avoid nicotine and consume caffeine and alcohol in limited amounts.
  • Learn stress management techniques and/or seek counseling if necessary.
  • Keep the bedroom cool, quiet, comfortable and dark.
  • Choose a good quality pillow and mattress.
  • Chamomile tea, warm milk, half a peanut butter or turkey sandwich can help with sleep.
  • Discuss sleep problems with primary care physician.
  • Use sleeping pills only as a last resort.