“Healthy lifestyles” — we hear the phrase quite often these days and it seems to be used to refer to many different things. The World Health Organization defines healthy lifestyle as a way of living that lowers the risk of becoming seriously ill or dying early. Health is not just about avoiding disease; it’s about physical, mental and social well being and being a positive role model. Who are you a role model for? A young child? A classroom full of students? Your relatives? Your family?
Tobacco use can get in the way of having a healthy lifestyle. It can rob us of the precious time we could be spending with our friends and loved ones and it can interfere with our ability to model healthy living. Tobacco remains the number one preventable cause of illness and disease in our society. If you don’t use tobacco, please don’t start.
The benefits of quitting tobacco and living a smoke-free lifestyle will appear almost immediately. Within 20 minutes your blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature in your hands and feet return to normal. Within eight hours the amount of oxygen in your blood improves. Within three days your lung capacity improves, your airways relax and breathing is easier. One year later, your risk of heart disease is reduced by half. Quitting tobacco also frees up time to get involved in healthy activities. Perhaps there are things you used to do that you would like to try again. Staying active will help to eliminate your cravings too. The benefits will reach beyond you — the 2010 Canadian Tobacco Monitoring Survey reports that when smoking rates decline there are huge public health benefits. If you do use tobacco, you can lower health risks and increase your success at quitting by calling Quitnow at 1-877-455-2233. Quitnow can assist by creating a personalized plan to support you. Your family doctor can also help support you on the road to a healthier lifestyle and soon British Columbians will have access to nicotine replacement therapies at no cost thanks to a recent announcement by Premier Christy Clark. Further details on this program will be announced shortly.
Cheryl Sidenberg is a senior tobacco reduction co-ordinator with Interior Health.