5 Ways to Take Charge of Your Health

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Good health doesn’t happen all by itself. You have to take charge and make it happen. Here are five things you can do right now.

When it comes to the state of health in America, the statistics speak for themselves. Obesity, diabetes, and heart disease are all on the rise. So are depression and high blood pressure.

While there are certainly lots of explanations for this trend, the best thing you can do is to buck it. By staying healthy, you reduce your risk of stroke, heart attack, and other major complications.

But this requires more than just going on a diet for a while. In fact, it means you have to be proactive and take charge of your own health. It means you have to be responsible on an ongoing basis. Here are five ways you can get started.

– Get a checkup. When was the last time you saw your doctor? For many, it’s been a while. But regular checkups are an important part of staying healthy. How often you should go depends on your age and overall state of health. But if you haven’t been in some time, it would be a good idea to check with your doctor and see if you are due.

And while you’re at it, find out which screenings you need. Your age and gender may put you at higher risk for certain conditions. Getting screened can help your doctor spot potential problems early on. It could even turn out to be a lifesaver.

– Get moving. There’s a stockpile of evidence that exercise is good for you. Not only can it help with weight control, but it’s also effective against:

  • Stress
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Depression and anxiety

If you haven’t been active in a while, start out slowly. Work your way up to at least 2 1/2 hours of moderate aerobic activity each week. And add in strength training at least twice a week. Just be sure to clear your new routine with your doctor first.

– Get hydrated. Lots of us are guilty of not getting enough water. There is no set amount that’s recommended. It depends on many factors including your age, gender, weight, health, and activity level. The weather, what you eat, and what medicines you take also affect how much water you need. But it’s important to drink enough to stay hydrated. Getting your fluids helps:

  • Prevent dehydration
  • Regulate body temperature
  • Aid in removing wastes from the body
  • Cushion joints
  • Protect sensitive tissues

While you can certainly get your fluids from various beverages, it’s best to avoid drinks that are high in sugar. These often lead to unnecessary weight gain.

– Get calm. There’s no denying that stress is bad for you. Its toxic effects can lead to serious health problems. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to combat it. Some of the more commonly practiced techniques include:

  • Breathing exercises
  • Muscle relaxation
  • Meditation
  • Massage therapy
  • Stretching exercises, such as yoga or tai chi

If you aren’t sure how to get started, go online or find a professional instructor in your community.

– Get to bed earlier. Those late night comedy shows are lots of fun, but they also cut into your sleep. Most adults need between 7 and 9 hours a night, which studies show many adults aren’t getting.

If you’ve been burning the candle at both ends, it’s time to slow down and give your body the break it needs. Put yourself on a regular sleep schedule and limit your caffeine intake at night. As your sleep habits improve, so may your general outlook and overall state of health.



Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Water: meeting your daily fluid needs
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Regular check-ups are important
Helpguide. Relaxation techniques for stress relief: relaxation exercises and tips
Helpguide. How much sleep do you need?
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Be active your way: a guide for adults

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