Chronic Disease Prevention
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Leading a healthy lifestyle by making healthy choices can result in a longer, more independent, and happier life. There are many things that you can do to help live a good life and prevent chronic disease and illness. Six recommended healthy living strategies include:
- Physical Activity
- Healthy Eating
- Living Tobacco-Free
- Limiting Alcohol Consumption
- Stress Management
- Getting Screened for Cancer
- Get Enough Sleep
Physical Activity: Be active. Get moving!
Being active can add many benefits to your life. Research shows that being physically active for 150 minutes per week can help to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, certain types of cancer, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and being overweight. Physical activity is also associated with better mental health, stress relief, and feeling better.
In order to achieve health benefits and improve functional abilities, the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines recommend that adults, ages 18 to 64 years, accumulate 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous aerobic activity per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more. You should also try to incorporate strength training and flexibility into your weekly routine.
Put the tablet down, turn off the TV and get active! Being active doesn’t have to be lonely or boring. Bring a friend and find an activity that you enjoy. You can even build physical activity into your daily routine for greater convenience. Being physically active is also associated with better mental health and stress relief.
Healthy Eating: You are what you eat.
Your body is an amazing machine, but it needs healthy fuel to perform at its best. A diet that constantly feeds the body fried, high-fat, salty junk foods is like pouring bacon grease into your vehicle’s gas tank – it will just clog up the engine and prevent it from working properly.
Canada’s Food Guide recommends eating more vegetables and fruit than any other food group. If you’re an adult between 19 and 50 years of age, Canada’s Food Guide recommends that females eat 7-8 servings of vegetables and fruit and males eat 8-10 servings.
8 servings may seem like a lot, but it really isn’t. For example, a ½ cup of fresh, frozen or canned vegetables and fruits count as 1 serving. 1 cup of raw leafy vegetables, such as a salad, is another serving. Throughout the day, those servings can add up faster than you know it!
Did you know that you are supposed to drink 8 glasses of water each day? Your body is composed mostly of water, so you need make sure you are hydrated for optimum health. Try to avoid sugary drinks with empty calories and drink water instead.
In our busy lives and rushed environment, it is easy to rely on fast food or pre-made snacks. Here are some tips to help you maintain a healthy, balanced diet:
- Keep a water bottle with you so you drink water and not juice or pop
- Keep healthy snacks on hand at work (e.g. carrot sticks, unsalted nuts, oranges, etc.)
- Pack a lunch for school and work
- Plan your weekly menu
For more great tips on healthy eating, or to speak with a Registered Dietitan, visit: EatRight Ontario
The single best thing that you can do to prevent chronic disease and avoid premature death is to live smoke-free.
Smoking is a known risk factor for developing several chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and several types of cancers. It is important to know that it is never too late to quit. In fact, your body starts to heal itself within hours of quitting. Within 8 hours, your carbon monoxide levels in your blood drop and oxygen levels rise. After 2 days, your sense of smell and taste start to improve. Between 2 weeks and 3 months, you will find it easier to breathe because your lungs are working better. If you remain smoke-free for a year your risk of a smoking-related heart attack is cut in half.
Smoking is not a habit; rather it is an addiction to nicotine – one of the world’s most powerful drugs. If you or someone you know is trying to quit smoking there is help available. Research shows that approximately 70% of people who smoke have thought about quitting or want to quit.
In an effort to support a healthy environment for our patients, families, staff, and volunteers, our Hospital’s grounds are 100% smoke-free. For more information on how you can quit smoking and about our Smoke-Free Together initiative.
Source: Canadian Cancer Society
Limit Your Alcohol Intake
Healthy living means all things in moderation – and that includes drinking alcohol. Recent reports show that drinking more than the recommended amount of alcohol can increase your risk of liver disease, cardiovascular disease, and some types of cancer.
Cancer prevention guidelines recommend that, if consumed, alcohol should be limited to 1 drink for women and 2 drinks for men each day. Read Cancer Care Ontario’s full report on alcohol as a cancer risk factor in Ontario,
If you choose to drink, consider these safer drinking tips:
- Set limits for yourself and stick to them.
- Drink slowly. Have no more than 2 drinks in any 3 hours.
- For every drink of alcohol, have one non-alcoholic drink.
- Eat before and while you are drinking.
- Always consider your age, body weight, and health programs that might suggest lower limits.
- While drinking may provide health benefits for certain groups of people, do not start to drink or increase your drinking for health benefits.
Source: Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines
Manage Your Stress: Relax. Find balance.
We live in a fast-paced, busy world and sometimes we get caught up in the motions of day-to-day life and stresses. Approximately 58% of Canadians report ‘overload’ as a result of the pressures associated with work, home life and extracurricular activities.
Make time for yourself to relax or do the things you enjoy. Find the balance in your life between work, life, and all of your other day-to-day businesses in between – including getting enough sleep! Make it your priority to find a work-life balance. Click here for some tips on how to help find balance.
To find out if you are in balance, take the Canadian Mental Health Association’s ‘Work-Life Balance Quiz’.
Disclaimer: This quiz provides general information only. It is not a diagnostic test.
Cancer screening can find cancers earlier when they are easier to treat. Ontario has three organized cancer screening programs, including: breast, cervical and colorectal cancer. These programs offer free screening to eligible men and women, as well as follow-up if necessary.
For more information on cancer screening services in our region click here.
Get a good night’s sleep.
Sometimes we forget how important getting enough sleep is, but it is very important for optimal health. Adults should aim to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night Click here for some healthy sleep tips.
Chronic Disease Prevention Messages:
- The best way to fight chronic disease and illness is to prevent it.
- Adults, ages 18 to 64, should accumulate 150 minutes of exercise each week.
- Before starting an exercise program, you should talk to your doctor.
- Being active for at least 150 minutes per week can reduce the risk of chronic disease and premature death.
- Physical activity can lead to improved fitness, strength, and mental health.
- Eat at least one dark green and one orange vegetable each day.
- Have vegetables and fruit more often than juice.
- Select lean meats and trim visible fat from meats.
- A single cigarette contains more than 4,000 chemicals.
- The single best thing you can do for your health is to live smoke-free.
- Most people who smoke have thought about quitting or want to quit.
- Smoking is not a habit; it is an addiction to nicotine.
- Find your work-life balance.
- Get screened for cancer!
- Adults should get 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night.