Q: What can I do to keep myself healthy?
A: That's a good question to ask, since all five of the major causes of death â€“ heart disease, cancer, stroke, lung disease and injury â€“ can result from an unhealthy lifestyle. Taking steps now can pay off in the future. Here's what you can do to improve your health throughout your life.
1. Don't smoke; if you do, quit.
2. Women should limit alcohol consumption to no more than three drinks a day (one drink is a can of beer, four ounces of wine or one ounce of liquor).
3. Eat right by following Canada's Food Guideline to Healthy Eating. Enjoy a variety of foods, including breads, grains and cereals; vegetables and fruit; low-fat dairy products; lean meats; and foods prepared with little or no fat. Strive to keep a healthy body weight, a number you can set with your doctor's advice.
4. Get regular exercise; aim for 30 minutes, two to three times a week.
5. Don't sunbathe or use tanning beds. Sun exposure is linked to skin cancer, so it's best to stay out of direct sunlight and to wear protective clothing and hats. Use sunscreen with a high SPF before going into the sun.
6. Get enough sleep (most adults need seven to eight hours each night) and try to reduce stress by getting regular exercise, learning relaxation techniques and talking over your problems with a trusted friend or professional.
7. Use a condom if you have sex.
8. Talk to your doctor if you have signs of depression such as fatigue, feeling sad or hopeless, eating or sleeping too much or too little, trouble concentrating or thoughts of suicide. Depression can be treated with counselling and medicine.
9. See you doctor regularly to check your blood pressure and discuss ways to keep your cholesterol down. Depending on your family history, your physician may want to test your cholesterol.
10. Use salt and caffeine in moderation.
11. Drink plenty of water.
12. Keep your shots up to date. Adults need a tetanus-diphtheria booster shot every 10 years. Ask your doctor if you need shots that protect against measles, mumps and rubella, pneumonia, influenza or hepatitis B.
13. Examine your breasts monthly and have your doctor check your breasts during your regular physical.
14. Have a regular Pap smear.
For more information on this and other health topics, visit the College of Family Physicians of Canada's (CFPC's) Web site www.cfpc.ca or talk to your family doctor.
If you have questions on this or other health topics you'd like to see addressed in future articles, please e-mail healthtopics@CFPC.ca.