Column: Prioritize your health in the new year
Now is the time of year when we typically take inventory of our lives and set new goals. Relationships, finances, careers and health are all important aspects that impact our overall well-being. For this new year, consider making your health a top priority.
According to the recent America’s Health Rankings Annual Report, the nation’s obesity rate continues to rise, with one in three adults now experiencing obesity. This represents a 166% increase from the 11.6% adult obesity prevalence in 1990. Colorado has the lowest obesity rate in the nation at 22.9%. The alarming national statistic may have serious health consequences such as diabetes, which now impacts approximately 30 million adults and is the No. 1 cause of kidney failure, lower-limb amputations and adult blindness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
There are many factors that play a role in your health, but one that you can control is making a commitment to start living a healthier lifestyle. Sure, there will be some bumps during your well-being journey, but your goal can be achievable, and you deserve to reap the benefits.
Consider some helpful tips for achieving a healthier you in 2020.
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Regular exercise may help you live longer and may reduce your risks for a host of diseases. Try to aim for at least 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic activity a week, but if that’s too challenging then start off with 15 minutes here and 15 minutes there. Every little bit counts. To be successful, your fitness program should become a part of your daily life.
Also, check with your health plan and employer to see if they offer wellness incentives. For example, UnitedHealthcare’s Gym Check-In program enables participating employers to provide employees and their spouses the opportunity to each earn hundreds of dollars a year for visiting a fitness facility 12 days or more per month.
Sure, it’s easier said than done, but good nutrition is a vital part of a healthier lifestyle. Experts say the healthiest diets are rich in fruits and vegetables, because these foods are full of healthful nutrients and fiber. Here are three simple tips to eating healthier: Go for more fruits and veggies; choose less meat and fat; and keep an eye on the size of your food portions. Just saying “no” to the buffet can do wonders.
Reduce your stress
If you’re feeling stressed, it’s important to unwind and relax by doing something you enjoy. Maybe it’s watching a movie, reading a book, or volunteering to give you time to recharge. Also, make time to connect with others. Maybe that’s friends, family, a faith group or a hobby club. It’s important that you don’t isolate yourself after a stressful event. Remember, if you cannot get a handle on your stress, talk to your doctor. She or he may recommend a counselor who could help you find other ways to help reduce or manage the unhealthy stress in your life.
Team up with your doctor
Take time today to make an appointment with your doctor for your annual wellness visit and be sure to ask about preventive services such as health screenings and vaccines. Check with your health plan as many preventive services have no additional cost, as long they are delivered by care providers in your plan’s network. Your doctor will help you create a treatment plan to help manage any chronic conditions, such as asthma, diabetes and high blood pressure.
Sandra Crews is health strategist for UnitedHealthcare of Colorado.
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