Melissa Bess, former Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, Camden County, University of Missouri Extension
It seems like there’s always something that can make us sick or prevent us from feeling our best. Here are some important tips for staying healthy:
- Wash your hands often. Use hot, soapy water and wash for at least 20 seconds. Don’t forget fingernails and wrists.
- Be physically active as often as possible. Current recommendations for aerobic activity are 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous activity weekly. If that is too much, start at a lower level and work toward the recommendation or break it up into 10 or 15 minute intervals. Strength training should be done at least two times a week, focusing on all the major muscle groups.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Many fruits and vegetables have antioxidants, which help prevent diseases. They also contain different vitamins and minerals that help promote health. Try to eat a rainbow of different fruits and vegetables.
- Cough into a tissue or your elbow. When you cough into the air or on your hand, you can easily spread germs to others.
- Get enough sleep. Allow your body and mind the rest it needs to stay healthy year-round. Sleep needs vary among people, so if you feel drowsy during the day you probably need more rest.
- Choose water as your primary drink. Water helps prevent dehydration and is essential for many body functions. About 1 quart of water is needed daily for every 50 pounds of body weight. If your urine is light yellow or clear, you are drinking enough water. If not, try to drink more.
- Eat breakfast. Just as a car needs gas for fuel, our bodies need fuel from foods for energy. We need fuel after a night of sleep. Eating regularly also keeps your blood sugar levels consistent throughout the day and prevents overeating later.
- If you are sick, stay away from others and avoid crowds. If others are sick, keep your distance. Either way, continue to wash your hands often and keep surfaces clean at home and work.
- Have a positive outlook and manage stress properly. Turn negative thoughts into positive ones and be grateful. Practice stress management techniques that work for you, including exercise, relaxation, meditation or deep breathing.
- If you smoke or use tobacco, quit. All forms of oral tobacco have chemicals that are known to cause cancer. It is not easy to quit, but there are many resources to help. There are many health benefits to quitting some of which happen shortly after quitting.
- Listen to your body. Eat only when you’re hungry and stop before feeling too full. This is probably the most difficult thing to do because of the convenience and availability of foods. Other emotions besides hunger can lead us to eat when we are not hungry or beyond the feeling of fullness.