Your family health care practitioner is in the business of keeping you healthy. A good family doctor knows you well, cares about you, and wants you to succeed in ways you can’t if your vitality is not what it could be.
Are you overweight, yet still undernourished? These days, that’s a common (though counter-intuitive) condition suffered by far too many Americans.
Is your weight okay, but are you too weak and tired to do the things you used to do easily? Again, far too many folks are huffing and puffing up the stairs who used to take them two-at-a-time.
How are you sleeping? Your body needs to rest and recharge… without sufficient sleep, it’s hard to maintain any kind of consistent physical vitality.
And if you suffer from any one (or a combination) of these general problems, you could be far more vulnerable to illness the next time some nasty bug starts to make its way around the office (or neighborhood).
But there are some simple things you can do to land yourself in the family clinic less frequently – and to make your doctor happier when you do see her for a routine check-up.
See if you can start by taking “baby steps” on the road to establishing these five essential daily health habits:
1. Eat Better
Sure, you might not feel like you have time to “go on a big diet kick,” and if you’ve tried dieting just to lose weight, you may have been disappointed and frustrated to the point of giving up.
But good nutrition is about much more than your weight or appearance – it’s primarily about fueling your body to make you stronger, more energetic, and less susceptible to illness.
If you’re overweight, you will be healthier carrying around fewer pounds… but it’s probably best to think of that as a pleasant “bonus,” and to focus on the greater strength and energy good nutrition can bring you.
And the “baby step” in your nutritional journey might not be to cut anything out (though you know you don’t really need all that sugar!), but rather to make sure you’re putting enough healthy vegetables and protein into your body. Over time, your discipline in eating enough of the good stuff may well cause your appetite for the bad stuff to diminish.
2. Get Some Exercise
Again, you don’t need to launch a major fitness program… in fact, if you’re pretty badly out-of-shape, your doctor may strongly suggest against it.
But some exercise is essential to a healthy body. Three workouts per week of 20-30 minutes each would be a great beginning goal.
If you haven’t exercised in some time, the best way to start is to get a heart monitor (they’re affordable), and ask your family doctor what your “target heart rate” range would be for light or moderate exercise. Then start slow, and build until you can maintain that range for a few minutes.
Your own body will tell you when you’re doing well, and when it’s time to take a break. And your family doctor will have great advice on how to start a modest exercise program that would be perfect for you and your lifestyle.
3. Drink Your Water
Dehydration is a common problem that affects more people than you think… and being dehydrated can really make you physically vulnerable.
Think about it: how often do you really drink water? Do you know how much you drink?
Most health experts recommend a daily water intake of around two liters (women can get by with a bit less… men might need a bit more).
An easy “fix” is to get a half-litre water bottle (they abound, and they’re inexpensive) and make sure you fill and drain it four times a day. You might have a bottle of water with your workout, and one with each of your meals. Alternatively (or in addition), you might make sure to drink one bottle of water when you…
4. Take Daily Supplements
Yes, it’s possible to be overweight, but also undernourished. That’s because much of the “food” we eat these days is full of “empty” calories: processed carbohydrates, sugar, and other ingredients that don’t supply any of the nutrients your body needs.
The baby step? Just find and take one good daily multi-vitamin.
Later, once your body’s had some better food, a little exercise, plenty of water, and a daily vitamin, your family doctor might have suggestions on what other supplements would do you good.
One blogger recently put it this way: “I have to take pills. That’s no longer an option for me. But the vitamin pills I take reduce the number of medicine pills I need. And I’d much rather take the vitamins.”
5. Get Enough Sleep
Most people need about eight hours of relatively-uninterrupted sleep every night to stay in decent physical shape.
Your specific circumstances may vary from the norm… you may need a little less than eight hours… some people need more.
Your family doctor will likely know.
Next time you visit your family medical clinic, let your health care pros know how you’re sleeping, and ask if you should try to make an adjustment.
There are affordable herbal sleep remedies (including wonderful new “essential oils”) which can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
And, sometimes, merely creating a relaxing “bedtime ritual” (don’t just fall asleep in front of the TV!) can make a world of difference.
That doesn’t sound like a LOT of extra effort, does it? Especially when you consider the benefits of better health. Check with your family doctor – starting with a fairly easy regimen of “baby steps” might make a huge difference in your overall health. If you’re already in tip-top shape, you might not need to do these five essential things for your body. But then, if you’re really in the best physical condition you could enjoy… you probably already do.
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