Saturday, May 27, 2017

Living With Chronic Disease: Making the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice

The on-going battles in congress and the continual news of how everything is falling or about to fall apart is taking its toll. Some new healthy approaches are needed.

In spite of what congress does or doesn’t do about saving the American Care Act or cutting funding to states for programs like Meals on Wheels, there is a lot that can be done to reduce risks, improve how we feel and save money by making “healthy choices the easy choices.”

We spend 90 percent of our time in the same places, and that environment dictates how easy it is to make healthy choices, or how difficult. By using the Power 9®, the nine secrets of longevity, to improve where we live, work, learn, and play, we make it easier to get up and move, eat healthy, make new friends, find a reason for being—and live longer, better. Blue Zones Project

I’ve written about the Blue Zones-the places on the planet where people live the longest- in various posts over the years and have been closely following what happens when these principles are introduced into American communities. If there ever was a time for those affected by chronic conditions to adopt the “power 9”  now is the time to do it. Not only will you feel better, you can actually save money. It's important to note that studies, which have nothing to do with the Blue Zones projects, support one or all aspects of the Power 9.

Consider the following:

End Smoking: Yes, this is an addiction but most states have considerable funds to help people stop smoking and some will even pay you to switch to “vaping.” Contact your local health department about free programs and supplies. Keep in mind that if you have a pack a day habit, by quitting, you’ll be saving yourself over $3,000 a year in addition to all the health benefits. If you don’t smoke but live with someone who does, urge and support them to join a "smoke enders" program as second hand smoke posses a very real health threat to you and everyone else in the home.

Move: Walking for as little as 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, can make major improvements in health. Using a fitness tracking devise can help remind you to move and reduce sedentary behavior. Smart phones contain an activity tracker-look for the app with the heart on it-so you don’t have to go out and buy one. You don’t need a Fitbit or smart phone as pedometers are still on the market and considerably cheaper. There are lots of ways to include movement into your day from walking or bicycling to work or to run errands, to housecleaning at night between TV commercials.  If you can’t walk swimming and cycling are excellent options. Keep in mind you don’t have to do everything at once. Doing something for 10 minutes or less at a time is fine. The key is to keep moving throughout your day.

Eating: Move towards a “plant slant” diet and away from pre packaged and fast foods that contain empty calories. Check out recipes from the Blue Zones project. Select restaurants that offer healthy options.

Connect: Having people in your life to do things with is critical. Humans are social creatures and we need to connect with others. This is a key component to building “social capital” so that you have people to help out when you need it most and in turn, your helping others will give you a strong sense of purpose. For more on this topic check out:

 Is a Chronic Condition Making you Less Social?

Have Meaning & Purpose: Just as having connections with family, friends and peers is important to our well being, so is having a sense of meaning and purpose to our lives. If you are looking for a project, consider how you can bring healthier choices into your community, support group, family or work place. Who can you recruit to help you with some of these ideas.

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