The World Health Organization sponsors World Health Day every April and uses it as a platform to discuss common health issues. Since the WHO monitors global epidemics, this annual event typically highlights maladies people in both the developing and developed world face. In honor of WHD, we’ve put together some simple ways that you can keep yourself healthy throughout the year.
Lead an Active Lifestyle
The body needs to move. Unfortunately, most of us do far too little of it. It’s not entirely our faults, however. Our careers and lifestyles require that we do a lot of sitting: in cars, at a desk, in front of a computer. Too much inactivity can be problematic for both our mental and physical health. When you exercise, your body produces endorphins. Those endorphins in turn signal the brain to produce “feel good” hormones. More and more research is pointing to those hormones as the key to good health, especially when it comes to fighting depression and anxiety. So, even if you need to start gradually, make exercise a part of your daily routine. Talk a 30-minute walk, join a gym, or hire a personal trainer. Whatever you do: start today.
The science has been in for decades: smoking is a common cause of a number of diseases that no one wants. To keep yourself healthy, and avoid cardiovascular disease, put the pack down. If you need help, consult a physician or look into abstinence programs through the American Lung Association. Just like with regular exercise, whatever you do: start today.
Meany health conditions don’t have any negative symptoms. If you have high cholesterol or triglycerides, you may not know. The same is true for many types of potentially long-term health conditions. So, get to your doctor at least once a year for regular checkups. An annual exam for women includes regular screens for breast and cervical cancers. Men need to get checked for prostate conditions. Everyone over 18 needs to get blood work drawn up which reveals your blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels as well as other important factors like liver enzymes and vitamin D levels.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Use World Health Day as an opportunity to evaluate your diet. It’s impossible for your body to stay healthy if you’re eating junk food, or foods laden with sugar and saturated fats. Fresh fruits and vegetables have most of the rich minerals, vitamins, and fiber we need to stay healthy. Pack a healthy, high-protein, low-fat lunch to work in a reusable food container. Limit your meals out to no more than two or three per week. Avoid frozen, prepackaged foods and any mixes that come from a box. Download one of the zillions of popular food and diet apps out there to stay on top of your meal planning.
It’s easier to get dehydrated than you realize. The minute that you feel thirsty reach for a glass of water. Hydration impacts your cognitive abilities and your overall energy levels. Remember: you’re constantly losing water in small amounts even when you’re not active. When you are active, it’s even more important to drink at least eight ounces per one hour of heavy exercise. So: whether you’re at rest or play, drink plenty of fluids.
Wash Your Hands
Most of us catch common flu and cold viruses from hand-to-hand contact. As soon as you get home from the store or running errands, wash your hands. You never know what you come into contact with from a grocery cart or the pen you used to sign a sales receipt. You should also wash up every time you use the bathroom. Keep hand sanitizer in your purse, car, or backpack for moments when you don’t have access to soap and water. Also: soaps with harsh chemicals or anti-bacterial agents aren’t necessary. Regular old soap, the kind your grandparents used, is plenty strong to wash off the common viruses that make you sick during cold and flu season.
This year, use World Health Day as your day to jumpstart a healthy lifestyle. Take small steps, like reducing your reliance on junk food for lunch, or increase the amount of activity you do every day. Little by little, you’ll feel better and stay healthy year round.