Thursday, 29 December 2011

Maintaining your body structure

How to lower your odds of becoming disabled
An ounce of prevention, the old saying goes, is worth a pound of cure. That's certainly true about disability. You can immediately reduce your odds of becoming disabled by making a few commonsense improvements in the way you live.

Embrace a healthy lifestyle

Oh, you've heard this one before? It's still true. Shedding bad habits and adopting healthier ones creates an abundance of benefits - not just for you, but for the people who love you and want you to stick around a long time.
  • Quit smoking
    It's no secret that nicotine use has been linked to a variety of life-threatening illnesses, from cancer to heart disease and stroke. If you're a smoker, make quitting your top priority. Need help kicking the habit? The American Cancer Society can help.
  • Get regular checkups
    Think of your doctor as an ally who helps keep you well, not just the person who treats you when you're sick. Regular checkups and screenings are vital, especially if you or your family are predisposed to certain medical conditions. Wondering about which screenings and immunizations you need? Ask your primary healthcare provider or visit the US Department of Health and Human Services website.
  • Get regular cancer screenings
    Early detection saves thousands of lives every month. Your family history and certain risk factors sometimes indicate that a person's screenings should start at a younger age. Ask your doctor, or visit the American Cancer Society website for more information.
  • Watch your weight
    Those extra pounds can cause big trouble. They strain your heart, raise your blood pressure and significantly increase your risk of a heart attack. Eat more high-fiber, nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables, and fewer high-fat foods. For more dietary information visit the US Department of Agriculture's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. Calculate your body mass index (BMI), to assess your personal situation, with this tool from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.
  • Get regular exercise
    A healthy life requires periodic physical activity. To prevent heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure and obesity, the American Heart Association recommends 30-60 minutes of exercise at least four times a week.
  • Avoid excessive drinking
    While drinking in moderation is usually fine, heavy drinking can lead to liver damage and other serious health risks. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration can answer your alcohol questions.
  • Become safety-minded
    Disability-causing incidents can spring up when you least expect them. Stay alert for possible dangers. Drive defensively. Wear your seatbelts. At work or play, always use the recommended safety equipment. For more information, visit the National Safety Council.
  • "Watch your back."
    Back injuries and arthritis are the leading causes of disability. You can reduce your chances of injury by losing weight, do gentle stretching exercises before a rigorous workout, and practice sound weightlifting techniques. The Cleveland Clinic Health Information Center is an excellent source of information.
  • Cultivate your mental and emotional health, too
    Good relationships and a positive mental attitude really help. Maintain contacts with family and friends. Stay active and involved through work, recreation and perhaps volunteer work in your community. Yes, it's a 24/7 world but no one can work 24 hours a day. Take time for relaxation and doing things that make you happy. Reducing stress reduces the likelihood of some physical illnesses. For more information, visit visit Mental Health America.

    10 Things Needed for a Healthy Lifestyle

    Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images
    If you want to maintain a healthy lifestyle, changing one or two aspects such as exercise or diet alone will not be sufficient. The key to a healthier life is to adjust your lifestyle to the extent that all aspects are in sync with each other.


    A healthy diet is obviously an important factor. The best way to start is to simplify your diet, this means instead of focusing on calorie counting, reduce the size of your portions at each meal. Cut down on fats and carbohydrates. Make sure you are getting enough fresh fruit and vegetables daily. Reduce your intake of soda and caffeine. You will soon start to notice that you feel healthier and have more energy.
    Exercise is probably the second most important aspect to change. Exercise has a number of benefits including improving your mood, reducing chronic health problems, maintaining a healthy weight and boosting your energy.


    Reducing your stress levels is key to a healthier lifestyle. You can cut down stress by recognizing the cause of your stress, changing your habits and not making excuses for maintaining high stress levels. Practices such as yoga, tai chi and qigong are great ways to help you control stress.


    Regular sleep is much more important for your health than many people realize. If you are not getting enough sleep you will feel irritable, find it difficult to concentrate, be more prone to illness and feel fatigued and lacking energy all the time.

    Substance Use

    If you are a smoker or consume alcohol on a regular basis, you are already reducing your chances of a healthy lifestyle. Smoking increases your risk of a number of diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Drinking depletes your immune system and can cause liver damage. Talk to your doctor about improving your lifestyle by reducing your alcohol intake and quitting smoking.


    Preventative health measures are one of the best ways to ensure that you do not succumb to serious illness. Preventative health care such as regular screening, reduction of risk factors and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and high cholesterol.


    Social activities are an important part of a healthy lifestyle. All work and no play doesn't only make you dull, it increases your stress levels and can lead to depression. Recreation time is good for stress and can improve energy levels, as well as helping balance emotions and build strong connections between friends and relatives.

    Time Out

    Take time out. Whether it's a ten minute break during your work day, a few hours during a busy family weekend to put your feet up or a relaxing vacation to get away from it all, everybody needs time out. Allowing yourself some time to put work and other stressors such as money on the back burner and to pamper yourself it reenergizing and good for you overall health


    Healthy personal relationships are vital to good health, whether its your partner, family members of close friends. Everyone needs someone to turn to sometimes and just knowing that you have a network of supportive loved ones around you can help keep you emotionally strong.

    Positive Thinking

    Self acceptance as an important factor for a healthy lifestyle. This means thinking positively about yourself and accepting yourself for who you are, warts and all. Maintaining a positive self image helps boost your confidence, prevent depression and reduce stress.

    Why Should People Choose a Healthy Lifestyle?

    Eating well, exercising and avoiding unhealthy habits are ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Other ways to stay healthy include avoiding stressful situations, being surrounded by supportive friends and family, and keeping your brain challenged. A healthy lifestyle can add 14 years to your life, according to researchers at the University of Cambridge in England.

    Avoiding Chronic Diseases

    Taking measures to stay fit and healthy goes a long way in preventing chronic diseases. The Mayo Clinic suggests eating well, exercising and not smoking to minimize your risks of heart disease, some types of cancer and diabetes. Maintaining a healthy weight in midlife may lessen your chances of developing Alzheimer's disease by a third. It is also important to manage your stress level to fight off chronic diseases and other illnesses, including high blood pressure, stroke and infertility. Long-term stress can leave you susceptible to depression and anxiety.
    Improving Your Mood
    A healthy lifestyle includes socializing. Being surrounded by friends and family who support your goals and ambitions will make you happy. Exercising can also improve your mood. Physical activity helps your brain release chemicals that help you feel relaxed and happy. Exercise can lead to better self-esteem and can help ward off depression. Eating healthfully can also boost your mood. The "Psychology Today" website recommends eating a balanced breakfast every day to keep your mood stable. The site also suggests eating proteins such as fish, eggs and soy with every meal and avoiding simple sugars to boost your spirits.

    Sleeping Well

    Exercising regularly will help regulate your sleep patterns. Sleeping better at night leads to more energy the next day. Eating right will also help you sleep better. Avoid caffeine before bedtime to get a better night's sleep and avoid daytime sleepiness. Reducing stress is another way to have a healthy lifestyle. If you are experiencing a lot of stress, you are more likely to have a tough time sleeping. If you need help dealing with stress, try meditating or talking to a counselor.

    Keeping Your Mind Fresh

    A balanced breakfast every morning will get your brain off to the right start. Breakfast allows your brain to restock its energy stores that were depleted during the night. A nutritious breakfast, including a combination of proteins and complex carbohydrates, will help you think more clearly. Physical activity also benefits the brain. Movement such as walking increases your heart rate and your breathing pattern. This helps more blood flow to your brain, which improves your brain's energy level.

    There are times in all of our lives when we are just swamped. If you ever get stressed out at work or overloaded with responsibility when you get home, keeping up with a healthy diet is often a very hard thing to do.

    Eating right takes discipline and planning - two things that are in short supply when we are caught up in the hectic rat race of our daily lives. If you don't think you have the will power to keep up with a healthy lifestyle when the going gets stressful, here are some tips that may help you out.
    • Plan Your Meals Ahead
      I know this takes time and forethought, but if you can actually schedule your meals ahead of time, you will be much less tempted to swing by a fast food restaurant when your hunger kicks in. Pack a lunch from home or plan out your dinners at the start of the week. The decision of what to eat will have already been decided so you won't be forced to make a choice at the end of a crazy workday.

      Of course, this can't be done when you're in the middle of a double shift and all of your responsibilities are demanding your attention at once, but if you can plan this out before your life hits the fan, you'll have one less thing to worry about.
    • Hide Healthy Snacks at Work
      At my office, I have a can of lightly salted cashews on constant standby. When I'm stressed and tempted to run to the vending machines, grabbing a small handful of cashews is a much better alternative. They are natural and actually good for you since they are a good source of protein and unsaturated fat (the good kind). Other options I'd recommend are dried fruit (like raisins), low butter popcorn, or some fresh veggies.
    • Drink WaterWater is a great choice for anytime of the day. If you have to grab a quick meal somewhere, ordering water with your food is a fantastic way to save some calories. It hydrates you, your body actually needs it, and it works to fill your stomach without any artificial flavors or ingredients. Water is also great with the mid-afternoon snack and really can help take away the hunger pains temporarily.
    • Be Creative With Your Workouts
      If you are too pressed for time to hit the gym, there are
      several other options available to you. Take a walk at lunch, go for a run in the morning, or play with the kids after work. Anytime you work up a sweat it is probably a good sign that you are burning some calories. Personally, I love getting out of the office occasionally at lunch for a quick jog. It helps clear my mind, breaks the day up, and doesn't take any time away from important tasks.
    • Grilled Chicken: The Fast Food Escape Plan
      If you absolutely have to order takeout or go to a drive-thru for a meal, there is always a healthy choice hidden somewhere on the menu. It may not be as tasty but it will save you some calories and fat. Almost all fast food places have some sort of grilled chicken wrap or sandwich. If you order this without mayo, cheese or any extra high-calorie sauce, you will have made a better choice than the greasy burger you usually order. Below are some staples I look for at fast food places when I'm just too busy to get anything else.
    Remember that consistency is important in getting fit. If you only make healthy choices when you feel like it, then you won't see much progress on the scales or in the mirror. This is about making the right choice even when it's hard and if you are tired. However, if you can really make the good decisions when your life is chaotic and you are super stressed, you will know that you can make it for the long haul.

    Simple Ways to Live a Healthy Lifestyle

    You hear a lot about living a healthy lifestyle, but what does that mean? In general, a healthy person doesn't smoke, is at a healthy weight, eats healthy and exercises. Sounds simple, doesn't it?
    The trick to healthy living is making small changes...taking more steps, adding fruit to your cereal, having an extra glass of water...these are just a few ways you can start living healthy without drastic changes.
    One of the biggest problems in America today is lack of activity. We know it's good for us but avoid it like the plague either because we're used to being sedentary or afraid that exercise has to be vigorous to be worth our time. The truth is, movement is movement and the more you do, the healthier you'll be. Even moderate activities like chores, gardening and walking can make a difference.
    Just adding a little movement to your life can:
    • Reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes
    • Improve joint stability
    • Increase and improve range of movement
    • Help maintain flexibility as you age
    • Maintain bone mass
    • Prevent osteoporosis and fractures
    • Improve mood and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression
    • Enhance self esteem
    • Improve memory in elderly people
    • Reduce stress
    So, even if you opt for small changes and a more modest weight loss, you can see the benefits are still pretty good. One study has found that just a 10% weight reduction helped obese patients reduce blood pressure, cholesterol and increase longevity.
    Simple Ways to Move Your Body
    You can start the process of weight loss now by adding a little more activity to your life. If you're not ready for a structured program, start small. Every little bit counts and it all adds up to burning more calories.
    • Turn off the TV. Once a week, turn off the TV and do something a little more physical with your family. Play games, take a walk...almost anything will be more active than sitting on the couch.
    • Walk more. Look for small ways to walk more. When you get the mail, take a walk around the block, take the dog for an extra outing each day or walk on your treadmill for 5 minutes before getting ready for work.
    • Do some chores. Shoveling snow, working in the garden, raking leaves, sweeping the floor...these kinds of activities may not be 'vigorous' exercise, but they can keep you moving while getting your house in order.
    • Pace while you talk. When you're on the phone, pace around or even do some cleaning while gabbing. This is a great way to stay moving while doing something you enjoy.
    • Be aware. Make a list of all the physical activities you do on a typical day. If you find that the bulk of your time is spent sitting, make another list of all the ways you could move more--getting up each hour to stretch or walk, walk the stairs at work, etc.
    Learn about more ways to fit in exercise.
    Eating Well
    Eating a healthy diet is another part of the healthy lifestyle. Not only can a clean diet help with weight management, it can also improve your health and quality of life as you get older. You can use the new MyPlate to determine how many calories you need and what food groups you should focus on or, if you're looking for smaller changes, you can use these tips for simple ways to change how you eat:
    • Eat more fruit. Add it to your cereal, your salads or even your dinners
    • Sneak in more veggies. Add them wherever you can--a tomato on your sandwich, peppers on your pizza, or extra veggies in your pasta sauce. Keep pre-cut or canned/frozen veggies ready for quick snacks.
    • Switch your salad dressing. If you eat full-fat dressing, switch to something lighter and you'll automatically eat less calories.
    • Eat low-fat or fat-free dairy. Switching to skim milk or fat free yogurt is another simple way to eat less calories without having to change too much in your diet.
    • Make some substitutes. Look through your cabinets or fridge and pick 3 foods you eat every day. Write down the nutritional content and, the next time you're at the store, find lower-calorie substitutes for just those 3 items.