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10 Ways to Make Staying Healthy Easier - Health Care Tips

10 Ways to Make Staying Healthy Easier

10 Ways to Make Staying Healthy Easier

In our busy lives, the quest to stay healthy can all too easily fall to the bottom of the to-do list. To help, we've compiled 10 simple tips experts say can make getting and staying in good health easier to achieve.

1. Believe you can be healthy

While this tip may sound deceptively simple, studies have found that doing so can pay off in a longer, healthier life, says Karen DeSalvo, MD, professor and chief of general internal medicine at Tulane University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans. While researchers don't completely understand why, DeSalvo speculates that those who believe they can be healthy are more likely to take the steps necessary to make it happen -- and less likely to leave their health up to chance or fate.

2. Manage your medications

Do you take more than one medication on a daily basis? If so, an old-fashioned pillbox with compartments separated by day and time is still the best way to make sure you're taking your medicines as directed, says Deborah Sturpe, PharmD, assistant professor at University of Maryland School of Pharmacy in Baltimore. "It's impossible to line up 10 bottles on your dresser and remember what you've taken and when," she says. With a pillbox, you'll know if you've taken your medications at a glance.

3. Speak the same language

If your doctor speaks in medical jargon you don't comprehend, don't hesitate to ask for clarification, says David Baker, MD, chief of general internal medicine at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. Studies show patients who understand their ailment and their treatment plan not only do better, they're also more satisfied with their care. If your doctor won't translate, consider switching to another provider who will.

4. Keep a health journal

While many patients believe their doctor will remind them when it is time for an important test or exam, the reality is that most doctors don't have the time to extensively track each patient, says DeSalvo. You can help by buying a notebook to record the results from tests and exams you've had -- and note those you still need. Charts listing what tests you should have depending on your age are available on the Internet and in medical reference books. Your health journal is also a handy place to keep track of your symptoms between doctors' appointments, as well as to list the names and contact numbers of all your health care professionals, she says.

5. Take advantage of automation

Thanks to new technologies, patients can get medication refill reminders by email, order prescriptions on their pharmacy's website or by phone, or have them sent automatically by mail. Such tools help prevent lapses in doses caused by forgetting to refill a prescription on time, says Sturpe. "Each pharmacy offers different services," she says. "Call around and find out what's available in your area." Don't have access to the Internet? Get the same effect by marking refill dates on your calendar three days before you'll need them in case of a glitch, she adds.

6. Do everything in moderation

When it comes to staying healthy, excess in either direction can be bad, says DeSalvo. "Whether it's alcohol or vitamins, fast food or soy, watching TV or working out, too much of anything can be bad for your health," she says. An all-or-nothing approach often leads to frustration and failure, studies show. She recommends shooting for the middle road instead. For example, if your goal is to start running again, start out with a brisk walk and gradually up the pace over a period of several weeks, rather than force yourself to run to the point of exhaustion on the first day and possibly end up with an injury.

7. Put a stop to negative thoughts

When you're feeling stressed and overwhelmed, negative thought patterns can creep in, says Reg Williams, PhD, RN, a professor at the University of Michigan's School of Nursing in Ann Arbor. The resulting emotions then set off physical reactions that can weaken your immune system and open the door to illness. Try this instead, he recommends: Close your eyes and visualize a big red stop sign. Replace negative thoughts like, "I'll never finish this project," with a positive one such as, "I can handle this challenge," and put a stop to the unhealthy downward spiral.

8. Know what pills you take -- and why

When patients understand why they are taking a certain medication, studies show they are much more likely to take it as directed and reap the therapeutic benefits, says Sturpe. Patients should also bring their prescription, over-the-counter, vitamin and herbal supplements with them to their doctors' appointments, says DeSalvo. The move can help their doctor be sure new medications won't cause dangerous interactions.

9. Build a support system

Whether you're trying to quit smoking, get active, lose weight or manage a chronic health condition, tapping into the support of family and friends makes success more likely than going it solo, says Sturpe. Meet a friend for a walk.

10. Enjoy yourself!

It may sound too good to be true, but that's exactly what research has found can help ward off sickness, says Carl Charnetski, PhD, professor of psychology at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, PA. "Behaviors that are pleasurable, as a rule, tend to be associated with boosts in immune function," Charnetski says. Whatever your interest -- from painting to music to gardening to travel -- making fun time a mandatory part of life can pay off big in health benefits, he adds.

Source: Unknown

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