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Simple ways to improve your health

Even small changes in daily routines can improve your health.

Eating more fruits and vegetables or getting more exercise, for example, can become routine once you put your goals into action.

Persistence is key! On average, it takes 66 days for a behavior to become automatic.

The best news: You can start right now!


  • Nutrition: A nutritious breakfast every morning boosts energy and curbs cravings. Nutrient-dense foods provide a high level of nutrients for the calories they obtain. Sugars and processed foods lead to sluggishness, weight gain and they damage cells.
  • Hydrate: According to the CDC, plain water intake is lower in children, adolescents, and older adults. Water aids in digestion and regularity, transports nutrients to muscles and lubricates joints. Recommended: 11-16 eight-ounce glasses/day depending on age, exercise and climate. Fact: the human body is made up of 60% water. The brain and heart are 73% water and the lungs are about 83% water.
  • Checkups: Regular screenings and tests help detect health-related issues early, increasing successful treatment options. Visit with your health-care provider to monitor any risks or changes regarding health.
  • Avoid Stress: Stress can lead to irritability, overeating and reduced energy levels. Chronic stress increases risks for high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, depression and diabetes. Counter stress by practicing deep breathing, go for a walk and take a minute to stretch.
  • Sleep: Adequate sleep (7-9 hrs./night) improves memory, repairs muscle fibers and aids in immune function. A study in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) found that those who regularly slept fewer than 6 hrs./night were more likely to be overweight. To improve sleep: consistency is key/go to bed at the same time every night, keep bedroom cool, calm and dark, and avoid technology before bedtime.
  • Exercise: Physical activity wards off diseases and aids in fat loss. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week for adults. Exercise improves sleep quality. Resistance training twice a week lessens the effects of natural age-related loss of muscle mass. Work movement into daily routines.
  • Socialize: Maintain close relationships and forge social connections to increase happiness and longevity. Isolation may disrupt sleep, reduce sense of well-being and increase stress and blood pressure. Volunteer in the community and schedule a weekly get-together with friends and family.
  • Head Outside: According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans spend an average 90% of their time indoors. Vitamin D, a bone-strengthening nutrient that aids in immune function, is gained primarily through sun exposure. Spending time in nature may protect against depression, diabetes, obesity, ADHD, cardiovascular disease and some cancers. Take the kids to a park or spend a weekend camping and exploring nearby trails.
  • Get Creative: Activities like coloring, drawing and writing promote fine motor skills and lessen feelings of anxiety while increasing a sense of self-worth. Middle-aged and elderly adults who participate in arts and crafts are less likely to develop cognitive disorders. Write in a daily journal, draw, sketch or paint.
  • Know Your Story: If hereditary factors exist for high blood pressure, cancer, heart disease, diabetes or other chronic conditions, take steps early to avoid potential disorders. Talk to relatives about medical conditions in the family. Fact: According to the CDC, most people have a family health history of at least one chronic disease. If you are at genetic risk for a disorder, healthy lifestyle choices like proper nutrition, exercise and quitting smoking may increase your odds of staying healthy.

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About Ramona Stueve

Ramona Stueve, RN/CBN is a program nurse with Via Christi LIGHT in Manhattan.