(PatriotWise.com) – With healthcare costs skyrocketing, it’s more important than ever for the average American to strive for wellness. Regular checkups and doctor’s visits do play a role in this process, but our own level of self-reliance also matters. From getting enough exercise to avoiding problematic habits, here’s how to ensure we’re playing an active role in our own health at all times.
Take Responsibility for Your Wellness
Doctors and hospitals do play an important role in keeping us healthy, but true wellness begins right at home. The way we live our lives, from the foods we eat all the way to how kind we are to ourselves, can significantly impact how likely we are to experience chronic diseases. If we ignore our own needs, push ourselves too hard, or don’t engage in self-care, we will eventually suffer the effects — that’s a scientifically-proven fact.
Instead of leaving it up to the doctor to fix everything, become an active participant in improving health. Make a conscious decision to be present and accountable, even if you don’t always get it right. If you haven’t really taken care of yourself in the past, or you’re already struggling with a chronic illness, there’s no need to shame yourself or feel guilty. Just be willing to take an honest look at it, and work to improve from wherever you are right now.
Track Your Health
How aware of your health situation are you? If the only time you think about it is when you have your yearly check-up, you risk missing out on potential issues when they first arise.
First and foremost, be aware of your health and how it changes day-to-day. Keep a wellness diary; use it to jot down how you’re feeling, how long you sleep, whether you exercised, what you ate, and whether you struggled with any health issues (such as a headache or a cold). This may help you spot patterns (good and bad) over time.
Wearable tech, like the FitBit, can be useful, too. Tracking steps, heart rate, and other statistics can be helpful, especially if you’re trying to achieve specific goals. But if you can’t afford them, that’s okay — they’re an adjunct, not a necessity.
Exercise is key to a healthy life. Whether you’re the type of person who loves to spend hours running, or you haven’t even walked around the block in several years, there’s no time like the present to get your body into tip-top shape. Not only might it help you maintain a healthy weight, but studies show that it may also help you ward off issues such as heart disease and diabetes.
With your doctor’s approval, start a simple exercise plan that meets your needs. This may be as simple as just going for a 10-minute walk every day or as complex as spending time with a trainer in your local gym. Then, find ways to add opportunities for exercise within your daily life. Take the stairs, go for a walk at lunch at work, or spend time playing in the backyard with your kids. Every little bit counts.
Whatever type of exercise you choose, remember, becoming active again takes time. Don’t push yourself too hard, but don’t let yourself make excuses to avoid it, either. Easing in will set the stage for permanent healthy habits that are easy for you to maintain — without risking an injury.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Think back to what you ate for breakfast, lunch and dinner in the last week. If the answer is “nothing,” “a cupcake,” or “a candy bar,” you aren’t doing your health any favors. While the occasional skipped meal or indulgence is perfectly fine, your goal should always be to eat healthy whenever you can.
What you are is what you eat — that’s a fact proven by science time and time again. If you consume the right amount of nutrition-rich foods, your body will have what it needs to stay healthy and in tip-top shape. On the other hand, over-indulging in sugary snacks, high-fat fried foods, and other sources of “empty calories” usually results in weight gain, gastrointestinal upset, and a higher risk for illness. Not eating at all might be even more detrimental (not to mention making you feel pretty awful).
Oh, and don’t forget to stay hydrated, too. Not only will it help your body process all of those healthy whole foods you’re enjoying, but it also plays a key role in everything from immune function to how well your kidneys flush out toxins. A good rule of thumb is that if you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.
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