Are bad habits wreaking havoc on your health? Whether it’s too much sun, not enough sleep, skipping important medical exams or choosing the couch over the treadmill, we’re all guilty of making some bad choices. But it’s never too late to change your habits. With the right support, a variety of resources and some great advice, it’s possible to achieve your goals.
and be a healthier person.

Eat a healthy diet

A diet high in saturated fat and trans fat can increase your risk for heart disease and certain cancers. The American Heart Association and other health organizations recommend limiting your total fat intake to no more than 30 percent of your daily calories. Diets that are high in fat and sugar also promote obesity, which not only affects your appearance, but also is a risk factor for many diseases. Strike a healthy balance by eating meals rich in whole grains, vegetables and fruits, with small servings of chicken, fish and lean meat. Be sure to drink plenty of water every day because good hydration helps keep the skin taut and elastic, and reduces bloating.

Exercise regularly

Regular exercise improves muscle tone so you stand taller and walk with more confident strides. Good cardiovascular conditioning also improves blood flow to muscles and skin, so your skin tone is more likely to have a healthy glow.

The American Academy of Family Physicians suggests some kind of moderate physical activity for 30 to 60 minutes most days of the week. According to the 2018 Physical Guidelines for Americans, in addition to disease prevention, regular physical activity provides a variety of other benefits including helping people sleep better, feel better and perform daily tasks more easily.

Include anaerobic strength training and aerobic activities such as walking, running, swimming or cycling. Daily stretches will help maintain flexibility. Be sure to check with your healthcare provider before beginning any exercise program.

Get a good night’s sleep

Give your body the rest it needs to restore itself. You’ll feel refreshed, you’ll look better, you’ll have more spring in your step and your day will be filled with vitality. Getting too little sleep creates a “sleep debt” that eventually must be repaid. Operating on a sleep deficit affects your judgment and reaction time. Contact the Sleep Disorders Center at Parkwest Medical Center at (865) 373-1974 if your sleep routine leaves you less than rested.

Avoid toxins

Harmful substances take their toll on your appearance and your health. Smokers, for instance, are more likely to have dry, wrinkled skin than nonsmokers, according to the American Cancer Society. Overuse of alcohol can also dry the skin. Too much sun causes damage, too. Guard against skin cancer and premature wrinkling by using sunscreen and wearing a hat and protective clothing when you spend time outdoors.

Don’t forget your emotional health

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, people with good emotional health are aware of their thoughts, feelings and behaviors. They have learned healthy ways to cope with the stress and problems that are a normal part of life. Poor emotional health can weaken your body’s immune system, making you more likely to get colds and other infections during emotionally difficult times.

Avoid toxins

Harmful substances take their toll on your appearance and your health. Smokers, for instance, are more likely to have dry, wrinkled skin than nonsmokers, according to the American Cancer Society. Overuse of alcohol can also dry the skin. Too much sun causes damage, too. Guard against skin cancer and premature wrinkling by using sunscreen and wearing a hat
and protective clothing when you spend time outdoors.

Don’t forget your emotional health

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, people with good emotional health are aware of their thoughts, feelings and behaviors. They have learned healthy ways to cope with the stress and problems that are a normal part of life. Poor emotional health can weaken your body’s immune system, making you more likely to get colds and other infections during emotionally difficult times.

One way to nurture your emotional health is to calm your mind and body through relaxation and meditation. If your emotional health is a concern or if you feel overwhelming feelings of sadness or depression, counselors at Peninsula can assist you to find the resources you need. Call (865) 970-9800 any time.

If you want to look healthier and improve the quality of your physical and emotional health, start by taking care of yourself. Remember that one small, positive change a day can result in major benefits over time.

Making the Most of Your Annual Wellness Visit

Your annual wellness visit is the ideal time to check in with your healthcare provider about the best ways to take care of your health. As you age, you may need some new tests. Others may no longer be required. Tests are just one topic on your list to discuss when you meet with your provider. Here’s how to make sure you are prepared when you arrive at the office.

Write down your questions in advance

Bring the list with you. This ensures that you don’t forget to mention something important.

Bring your health records

Bring copies of your personal health records. This is important if it’s your first visit or if it’s been a while since you saw this healthcare provider. Let your provider know about any other healthcare providers you see.

You might also want to bring information about the health of your close family members. Certain diseases and conditions run in families. For example, if a brother, sister, parent or adult child has been diagnosed with heart disease, diabetes or cancer, your provider may want to add that information to your file.

Bring a list of your medicines

Let your healthcare provider know what medicines you take each day. Make sure to include vitamins, herbal remedies, homeopathic remedies, teas, supplements and prescription medicines from all providers you see.

Talk about any changes you’re experiencing

Mention any new sensations, signs or symptoms that you’ve been having. You should also bring up any significant changes in your life, such as the death of a loved one, retirement or a change in lifestyle. These might have an impact on your health. Even difficult topics can and should be discussed with your provider. This includes changes in bathroom habits, sex, feelings of sadness or depression, and especially if you are having thoughts of suicide.

Ask about your numbers

This is a good time to check on your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels, weight, body mass index, heart rate and any other numbers that your provider has been watching. Ask what you need to do to keep these measurements in healthy ranges.

Ask about screenings

Certain health screenings, such as those for osteoporosis and breast, colon and prostate cancers, are advised for older adults. If your provider doesn’t mention them, ask if you should be screened during this visit or in the next few years.

Get needed vaccines

While the current focus might be on the COVID-19 vaccine, that shouldn’t keep you for ignoring other important vaccines. You should be vaccinated against the flu, whooping cough (pertussis) and tetanus. The shingles and pneumonia vaccines may also be on your health promotion and disease prevention list. Ask your provider about them.

Discuss any changes in your abilities

Sometimes it’s hard to face the changes that age brings. But bringing them up early may help your provider treat them more effectively. If you’re having problems with daily activities for any reason, such as pain in your joints, memory problems or trouble seeing clearly, let your provider know.

Ask if you need to see a specialist

People who live with long term (chronic) diseases such as diabetes may need to see specialists in addition to their regular healthcare provider. If your provider doesn’t mention this, you should ask.

Be honest about what you can do

Your provider may have some advice for you about how to improve your health. Let your provider know if your living arrangements, budget or transportation arrangements could interfere with the plan. That way you can come up with the best strategy for your health together.

Ask for advice

Most people want to be as healthy and happy as they can be. Ask your provider for help if you are trying to quit smoking, lose  weight, eat better or cope with sadness that just won’t go away.

It’s difficult to think about a time in the future when you may not be able to make healthcare decisions for yourself. Your provider can advise you about how to let your loved ones know what care you would want if you’re ever unable to speak for yourself.

Need help in finding just the right doctor? Parkwest offers physician referral specialists who can talk with you, help you understand your options and put you in touch with the right physician for you and your family’s needs. Call 374-PARK (7275) to speak with a personal physician referral specialist today.