Top 10 tips for a healthier you this year

Are you looking for ways for you and your family to lead healthier lives this new year?

  • Jan. 6, 2012 5:00 p.m.

Are you looking for ways for you and your family to lead healthier lives this new year?

Here are some top 10 healthy living tips for 2012 from the Ministry of Health:

1. Reduce the amount of sodium your family eats — We all need some sodium, but most of us eat about 3,400 milligrams per day. That is more than double the amount of sodium we need. Eating too much sodium can cause high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease and kidney disease. Experiment with herbs and spices instead of salt to flavour your food. Use fewer processed and packaged foods. Substitute fresh fruits and vegetables, unsalted popcorn or unsalted nuts for salty snacks. Small changes can make a big difference.

2. Limit consumption of sugary drinks — Did you know that some sugary drinks can have as many calories as a meal? These extra calories can lead to obesity and other health risks. Sugary drinks have little or no nutrition and often take the place of healthier beverages such as milk. Make water your first choice to satisfy thirst and keep you hydrated.

3. Fit in fitness — It’s not always easy to squeeze in a workout, but even small amounts of physical activity can help improve your health. Try taking the stairs instead of the elevator, getting off the bus a few stops ahead of your destination or make walking the dog a family outing.

4. Quit smoking — The health benefits of quitting smoking start to occur almost immediately. After 20 minutes, blood pressure and pulse rate decrease and by a year, the risk of a smoking-related heart attack is cut in half. For helpful tools and tips, visit: www.quitnow.ca.

British Columbians can also access the Smoking Cessation Program by calling 8-1-1 for free nicotine replacement gum or patches. Prescription smoking cessation drugs are covered as benefits under PharmaCare.

5. Spend more time with family and friends — There’s nothing like connecting with friends and family. Think about ways you can mix it up for a healthier 2012. Put your coffee in a to-go cup and change your weekly coffee date with friends to a walk. If you’re at home with kids, get active by doing jumping jacks, playing tag or dancing around the house — or pick a healthy recipe and get the whole family involved in learning how to make it.

6. Moderate alcohol intake — Many of us enjoy a drink when socializing, relaxing and celebrating, but chronic heavy alcohol use, as well as occasional excessive use of alcohol, can harm your health. Drink slowly. Have no more than two drinks in any three hours. Eat before and while you are drinking. For every drink of alcohol, have one non-alcoholic drink.

7. Control your portions and eat healthier — Reducing portion sizes can help us cut back on unneeded sugar, fat and calories. Look at ways to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your meals and snacks. Eating a wide variety of vegetables and fruit has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and diabetes.

8. Work/life balance for less stress — Working to achieve more of a balance between our work and personal lives can leave us feeling more rested and energized, help improve our relationships with family and friends, and leave us more time for physical and mental wellness. It’s not always easy, but try to schedule time for quick breaks throughout the day. When you get home, put aside unnecessary chores and take some time for you.

9. Get your flu shot — Getting sick with the flu can sometimes cause serious health consequences for you and your loved ones. By protecting yourself, you also help protect others.

10. Get enough sleep — Getting enough sleep can have an important impact on our overall health and mental well-being. Maintaining a regular bedtime routine, avoiding caffeine before bed, and being physically active during the day can all help make getting to sleep easier.

For more Information and tips for getting healthier this new year, visit www.healthyfamiliesbc.ca.

Thinking of quitting smoking in the 2012? For more information, visit www.health.gov.bc.ca/pharmacare/stop-smoking/ or www.quitnow.ca.

Looking for tips on healthy eating? HealthLink BC’s Dietitian Services’ registered dietitians can answer nutrition or food-related concerns. Reach them by calling 8-1-1 or by e-mail at www.healthlinkbc.ca/dietitian.

In November 2011, Canada released a new national set of low-risk alcohol drinking guidelines to help people who choose to drink decide when, where, why and how. For more information visit www.ccsa.ca/Eng/Priorities/Alcohol/Canada-Low-Risk-Alcohol-Drinking-Guidelines/Pages/default.aspx.

To find the nearest flu shot clinic, call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1, or visit the B.C. Flu Clinic Locator at: www.health.gov.bc.ca/flu/.

Looking for general health-related information? Visit: www.healthlinkbc.ca/.