|10 Ways to Make
Staying Healthy Easier - Health Care Tips
10 Ways to Make Staying Healthy Easier
10 Ways to Make Staying Healthy Easier
In our busy lives, the quest to stay
healthy can all too easily fall to the bottom of the to-do list. To
help, we've compiled 10 simple tips experts say can make getting and
staying in good health easier to achieve.
1. Believe you can be healthy
While this tip may sound deceptively
simple, studies have found that doing so can pay off in a longer,
healthier life, says Karen DeSalvo, MD, professor and chief of general
internal medicine at Tulane University Health Sciences Center in New
Orleans. While researchers don't completely understand why, DeSalvo
speculates that those who believe they can be healthy are more likely to
take the steps necessary to make it happen -- and less likely to leave
their health up to chance or fate.
2. Manage your medications
Do you take more than one medication on
a daily basis? If so, an old-fashioned pillbox with compartments
separated by day and time is still the best way to make sure you're
taking your medicines as directed, says Deborah Sturpe, PharmD,
assistant professor at University of Maryland School of Pharmacy in
Baltimore. "It's impossible to line up 10 bottles on your dresser and
remember what you've taken and when," she says. With a pillbox, you'll
know if you've taken your medications at a glance.
3. Speak the same language
If your doctor speaks in medical jargon
you don't comprehend, don't hesitate to ask for clarification, says
David Baker, MD, chief of general internal medicine at Northwestern
Memorial Hospital in Chicago. Studies show patients who understand their
ailment and their treatment plan not only do better, they're also more
satisfied with their care. If your doctor won't translate, consider
switching to another provider who will.
4. Keep a health journal
While many patients believe their
doctor will remind them when it is time for an important test or exam,
the reality is that most doctors don't have the time to extensively
track each patient, says DeSalvo. You can help by buying a notebook to
record the results from tests and exams you've had -- and note those you
Charts listing what tests you should have depending on your age are
available on the Internet and in medical reference books. Your
health journal is also a handy place to keep track of your symptoms
between doctors' appointments, as well as to list the names and contact
numbers of all your health care professionals, she says.
5. Take advantage of automation
Thanks to new technologies, patients
can get medication refill reminders by email, order prescriptions on
their pharmacy's website or by phone, or have them sent automatically by
mail. Such tools help prevent lapses in doses caused by forgetting to
refill a prescription on time, says Sturpe. "Each pharmacy offers
different services," she says. "Call around and find out what's
available in your area." Don't have access to the Internet? Get the same
effect by marking refill dates on your calendar three days before you'll
need them in case of a glitch, she adds.
6. Do everything in moderation
When it comes to staying healthy,
excess in either direction can be bad, says DeSalvo. "Whether it's
alcohol or vitamins, fast food or soy, watching TV or working out, too
much of anything can be bad for your health," she says. An
all-or-nothing approach often leads to frustration and failure, studies
show. She recommends shooting for the middle road instead. For example,
if your goal is to start running again, start out with a brisk walk and
gradually up the pace over a period of several weeks, rather than force
yourself to run to the point of exhaustion on the first day and possibly
end up with an injury.
7. Put a stop to negative thoughts
When you're feeling stressed and
overwhelmed, negative thought patterns can creep in, says Reg Williams,
PhD, RN, a professor at the University of Michigan's School of Nursing
in Ann Arbor. The resulting emotions then set off physical reactions
that can weaken your immune system and open the door to illness. Try
this instead, he recommends: Close your eyes and visualize a big red
stop sign. Replace negative thoughts like, "I'll never finish this
project," with a positive one such as, "I can handle this challenge,"
and put a stop to the unhealthy downward spiral.
8. Know what pills you take -- and why
When patients understand why they are
taking a certain medication, studies show they are much more likely to
take it as directed and reap the therapeutic benefits, says Sturpe.
Patients should also bring their prescription, over-the-counter, vitamin
and herbal supplements with them to their doctors' appointments, says
DeSalvo. The move can help their doctor be sure new medications won't
cause dangerous interactions.
9. Build a support system
Whether you're trying to quit smoking,
get active, lose weight or manage a chronic health condition, tapping
into the support of family and friends makes success more likely than
going it solo, says Sturpe. Meet a friend for a walk.
10. Enjoy yourself!
It may sound too good to be true, but
that's exactly what research has found can help ward off sickness, says
Carl Charnetski, PhD, professor of psychology at Wilkes University in
Wilkes-Barre, PA. "Behaviors that are pleasurable, as a rule, tend to be
associated with boosts in immune function," Charnetski says. Whatever
your interest -- from painting to music to gardening to travel -- making
fun time a mandatory part of life can pay off big in health benefits, he