Being physically active is just important to your mental health as your physical health. Keeping active will not only help you keep fit and maintain a healthy weight but also increase your energy and improve your mood. Try getting at least 30 minutes of moderately intense physical activity a day, no less than three days a week. If you are strapped for time, try to fit in three short 10-minute workouts, such as a brisk walk. Getting 10 minutes of exercise three times a day is as good as getting 30 minutes all at once. Find activities you enjoy; if you do, you’re much more likely to continue to be active.
Get enough rest.
Sleep is vital to your health and well-being. Most people need about seven to eight hours a night. Changing a few behaviors can help you achieve this goal. If possible, get into the habit of waking up and going to bed at the same times every day, even on the weekends. Don’t drink caffeine in the late afternoon or evening and avoid heavy meals and strenuous exercise two hours before bed time. Watching TV or using a computer before bed can make it harder to fall asleep. Try something relaxing, like reading, before your bedtime, instead.
Practice good nutrition.
Nutritious food choices are critical to maintaining good health, but diet trends and fads can make healthy eating seem complicated. It is really quite simple: eat a variety of foods including vegetables, fruits and whole-grains. Select lean meats, like poultry and fish, as your protein. Limit processed foods, salt and sugar. Don’t forget that juice, soda, alcohol, and even the cream and sugar you put in coffee all add up to extra calories. Drink water as your beverage of choice at most meals.
Know your numbers.
There are several numbers that your providers use to assess your health, including blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugar and BMI. Knowing these numbers can help identify your risk for health problems.
- Blood Pressure: Having high blood pressure increases your risk for stroke, heart disease and kidney disease. Blood pressure is measured in two numbers: systolic pressure (when the heart is contracting) and diastolic (when the heart is at rest). Normal blood pressure is 120/80 or below.
- Cholesterol: Your cholesterol numbers can help determine risk for heart attack or stroke. Ideally, your LDL (“bad cholesterol”) should be below 130 mg/dL; HDL (“good cholesterol”) should be above 40 mg/dL; and your total cholesterol level should be below 200 mg/dL.
- Blood sugar: An elevated blood sugar can be a sign of diabetes. A fasting blood sugar should be below 100 mg/dL.
- BMI: Your BMI, or body mass index, is a measurement that takes into account both your height and your weight. In general, people with a high BMI are at greater risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke and other conditions. For most people, a healthy BMI ranges from 18.5 – 24.9.
Know your medical history.
Knowing your medical history is important. It helps make sure you receive the right preventive care, screening tests and treatments. UW Medicine’s online medical records system,
eCare, allows you to read summaries of your latest clinic visits or hospital says, learn the results of your lab tests and review your prescriptions. UW Medicine eCare is a free, secure and convenient and allows you to review your records wherever in the UW Medicine health system you received care, including
Northwest Hospital & Medical Center,
UW Medical Center,
Harborview Medical Center,
Valley Medical Center, the
UW Neighborhood Clinics and other UW Medicine-affiliated clinics.
Build a relationship with a primary care provider.
Primary care providers are generalists who have a broad knowledge of medicine. They focus on keeping you healthy, caring for you when you’re unwell and directing you to specialty care when needed. To get the best care, it is important for you to establish a relationship with a primary care provider, who will know you, your health concerns and your priorities well. Most importantly, you should feel comfortable with your primary care provider so you can talk openly about anything – even your most embarrassing health concerns.