Good health habits can allow you to avoid illness and improve your quality of life. The following steps will help you feel better and live better.
Exercise is a key factor in staying healthy. Exercise strengthens the bones, heart, and lungs, tones muscles, improves vitality, relieves depression, and helps you sleep better.
Talk to your provider before starting an exercise program if you have health conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, or diabetes. This can help ensure that your exercise is safe and that you get the most of out of it.
Cigarette smoking is the main preventable cause of death in the United States. One out of every 5 deaths each year is either directly or indirectly caused by smoking.
Secondhand cigarette smoke exposure can cause lung cancer in nonsmokers. Secondhand smoke is also linked to heart disease.
Drinking alcohol changes many brain functions. Emotions, thinking, and judgment are first to be affected. Continued drinking will affect motor control, causing slurred speech, slower reactions, and poor balance. Having a higher amount of body fat and drinking on an empty stomach will speed up the effects of alcohol.
Alcoholism can lead to diseases including:
Parents should talk to their children about the dangerous effects of alcohol. Talk to your provider if you or someone close to you has a problem with alcohol. Many people whose lives have been affected by alcohol benefit from taking part in an alcohol support group.
DRUG AND MEDICINE USE
Drugs and medicines affect people in different ways. Always tell your provider about all the drugs you are taking. This includes over-the-counter medicines and vitamins.
Pregnant women should not take any drug or medicine without talking to their provider. This includes over-the-counter medicines. The unborn baby is even more sensitive to the harm from drugs in the first 3 months. Tell your provider if you have been taking any drugs just before becoming pregnant.
Always take medicines as prescribed. Taking any drug in a way other than prescribed or taking too much can cause serious health problems. It is considered drug abuse. Abuse and addiction are not just associated with illegal "street" drugs.
Legal drugs such as laxatives, painkillers, nasal sprays, diet pills, and cough medicines can also be misused.
Addiction is defined as continuing to use a substance even though you are experiencing problems related to the use. Simply needing a drug (such as a painkiller or antidepressant) and taking it as prescribed is not addiction.
DEALING WITH STRESS
Stress is normal. It can be a great motivator and help in some cases. But too much stress can cause health problems such as trouble sleeping, stomach upset, anxiety, and mood changes.
Obesity is a serious health concern. Excess body fat can overwork the heart, bones, and muscles. It can also increase your risk for developing high blood pressure, stroke, varicose veins, breast cancer, and gallbladder disease.
Obesity can be caused by eating too much and eating unhealthy foods. Lack of exercise also plays a part. Family history may be a risk for some people as well.
Having a balanced diet is important to being in good health.
Good dental care can help you keep your teeth and gums healthy for a lifetime. It is important for children to begin good dental habits when they are young. For proper dental hygiene:
Mora S, Libby P, Ridker PM. Primary prevention of cardiovascular disease. In: Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Tomaselli GF, Bhatt DL, Solomon SD, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 12th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 25.
US Preventive Services Task Force website. Behavioral counseling interventions to promote a healthy diet and physical activity for cardiovascular disease prevention in adults with cardiovascular risk factors: US Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. JAMA. 2020;324(20):2069-2075. PMID: 33231670 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33231670/.
US Preventive Services Task Force website. Draft recommendation statement: Prevention of dental caries in children younger than 5 years: screening and interventions. www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/draft-recommendation/prevention-of-dental-caries-in-children-younger-than-age-5-years-screening-and-interventions1. Updated December 7, 2021. Accessed January 31, 2022.
US Preventive Services Task Force website. Interventions for tobacco smoking cessation in adults, including pregnant persons: US Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. JAMA. 2021;325(3):265-279. PMID: 33464343 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33464343/.
US Preventive Services Task Force website. Screening for unhealthy drug use: US Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. JAMA. 2020;323(22):2301-2309. PMID: 32515821 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32515821/.
US Preventive Services Task Force website. Unhealthy alcohol use in adolescents and adults: screening and behavioral counseling interventions. www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Page/Document/RecommendationStatementFinal/unhealthy-alcohol-use-in-adolescents-and-adults-screening-and-behavioral-counseling-interventions. Updated November 13, 2018. Accessed November 2, 2021.BACK TO TOP
Review Date: 7/19/2021
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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