How do you stay healthy? Alegent Creighton Clinic's Stephanie Erickson, M.D., family medicine (La Vista), and Jennifer Jenson, M.D., a pediatrician (2201 West Broadway, Council Bluffs), offer advice you can start using today.
- Know your cholesterol levels. The good, the bad and the ratios. A healthy cholesterol level varies depending on medical history. Consult your primary care provider to determine the appropriate level for you.
- Know your blood pressure and control it. Optimum blood pressure is 130/80 or below. Elevated blood pressure can lead to chronic kidney problems, strokes and complicate heart disease.
- Watch your weight. "69 percent of Americans older than 20 are overweight or obese. Losing as little as five to 10 percent of your body weight can help prevent more serious disease," Dr. Erickson says.
- Keep moving. Make physical activity part of your daily routine. Exercise strengthens the heart and lungs, makes muscles stronger, improves circulation and can alleviate stress. Dr. Jenson adds, "Children need to be active every day, but should exercise vigorously for 30 minutes, three times per week. They also should limit ‘screen time' from TVs, computers and game systems to no more than 2 hours each day."
- Get plenty of sleep. Sleep helps your body and mind rejuvenate. Lack of sleep adversely affects metabolism, mood, concentration, memory and motor skills. Dr. Jenson suggests keeping children on a regular bedtime schedule and creating good sleep habits. "Children should always sleep in their own bed and learn to fall asleep on their own," she says. Adults need eight hours of sleep each night; teens nine-10 hours; and children/toddlers 10-12 hours.
- Click it! One person is killed every 48 hours on the roads in Nebraska. Always wear your seat belt and keep children in an age-appropriate car/booster seat until they reach a height of 4'9".
- Decide to finally quit. Smoking, on average, can take 14 years off your life. Middle-aged women increase their risk of heart disease by three times if they smoke. It's also important to avoid second-hand smoke exposure for children.
- Establish a safe home. Make sure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly, and have a fire exit plan. If you have children, safety-proof the house and backyard and remove anything that could cause falls.
- Eat right. Make fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains the main part of your overall diet. Stop eating before you become completely full and allow time for food to digest.
- Schedule annual physical exams/screenings and keep children's immunizations up-to-date, including an annual flu shot.
This article originally appeared in the Alegent Creighton Health enewsletter. To subscribe, click here.