How to lower your odds of becoming disabledAn 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 lifestyleOh, 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.