Daily Steps to Good Health:
Be physically active. If you are not already physically active, start small and work up to 30 minutes or more of moderate physical activity most days of the week. Walking briskly, mowing the lawn, dancing, swimming and bicycling are just a few examples of moderate physical activity.
Eat a healthy diet. Focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products. Include lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts. Eat foods low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt and added sugars. Stay at a healthy weight. Balance the calories you take in from food and drink with the calories you burn off by your activities. Check with your doctor if you start to gain or lose weight.
If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation. Have no more than two drinks a day if you are 65 or younger. If you are older than 65, have no more than one drink a day. A standard drink is one 12-ounce bottle of beer or wine cooler, one 5-ounce glass of wine or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.
Should You Take Preventive Medicines?
Aspirin. Ask your doctor about taking aspirin to prevent heart disease.
Immunizations. You need a flu shot every year. You can prevent other serious diseases, such as pneumonia, whooping cough and shingles, by being vaccinated. Talk with your doctor or nurse about the vaccines you need and when to get them. You can also find out which immunizations you need.
Screening Tests: What You Need and When
Health experts from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force have made these recommendations, based on scientific evidence, about which screening tests you need and when to get them.
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm. If you are between the ages of 65 and 75 and have ever been a smoker, talk with your doctor about being screened.
Colorectal Cancer. Have a test for colorectal cancer. Your doctor can help you decide which test is right for you.
Depression. Your emotional health is as important as your physical health. If you have felt "down," sad, or hopeless over the last 2 weeks or have felt little interest or pleasure in doing things, you may be depressed. Talk to your doctor about being screened for depression.
Diabetes. Have a blood test for diabetes if you have high blood pressure.
High Blood Pressure. Have your blood pressure checked at least every 2 years. High blood pressure is 140/90 or higher.
High Cholesterol. Have your cholesterol checked regularly.
HIV. Talk with your doctor about whether or not an HIV screening is applicable.
Obesity. Have your body mass index (BMI) calculated to screen for obesity. (BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight.) You can find your own BMI with the BMI calculator from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
Sexually Transmitted Infections. Talk to your doctor about being tested for sexually transmitted infections. A note on other conditions: Every body is different. Always feel free to ask your doctor about being checked for any condition. If you are worried about diseases such as glaucoma, prostate cancer or skin cancer, for example, ask your doctor. And always tell your doctor about any changes in your health, including your vision and hearing.
For more information, visit the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.