by Blake Herzog
Avoiding being infected by or spreading COVID19 is at the top of everyone’s health agenda this spring, but we can’t forget about preventing heart or lung disease, diabetes, cancer and other conditions which claim millions of lives, year in and year out.
The components of a healthy overall lifestyle haven’t changed, and we need to stay on track, to keep some of these longer-term concerns at bay and possibly build your immune system against all types of infections.
1. Be physically active. It’s a good idea to make sure you stay active at least 30 minutes a day or more most days of the week, which can be broken into 10-minute segments when you’re pressed for time. For kids, the recommendation is one hour of mostly aerobic activity daily. There are many types of healthy movement so find the ones you and your family will stick to and enjoy: some of the options include running, walking, yoga, sports and dancing.
2. Eat a well-balanced diet rich in vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Avoid foods that are high in saturated fats and cholesterol and moderate your intake of salt, sugar and fat. Saturated fats are found in meats, cheese and other full-fat dairy products, and cholesterol is present in red meats and full-fat dairy products. Avoid trans fats, found in margarines and some store-bought crackers, cookies and cakes.
3. Protect yourself and your family against injury by using and regularly checking equipment like seat belts, bicycle helmets and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and make sure any firearms in the home are stored safely. Be aware of your surroundings at all times, but especially when driving or walking outside the home.
4. Don’t smoke, or quit if you are smoking. Yavapai County Community Health Services recommends those looking for help with smoking cessation call Ashline, Arizona’s smoking hotline, at (800) 556-6222 for coaching or see www.ashline.org for more information.
5. If you drink alcohol consume it in moderation, and never drink before or while driving or when pregnant. Recommendations on alcohol use vary, but moderate consumption is usually defined as one drink per day for women and two per day for men. One serving equals a 12-ounce can of beer, 5-ounce glass of wine or 1.5 fluid ounces of distilled spirits.
6. Protect yourself from skin cancer by staying out of the sun when possible, especially between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. when the sun’s rays are strongest. Even cloudy days can pose a risk. Use sunscreen which guards against UVA and UVB rays, with a sun protection factor of at least 15. Wear sunglasses that block 99% to 100% of the sun’s rays.
7. Brush your teeth after every meal with a soft or medium-bristled toothbrush, and after drinking and before going to bed. Use dental floss daily. Maintaining good oral health can prevent tooth decay, gum disease bad breath and other painful or unpleasant conditions, which is huge in itself. But the mouth is also a gateway by which harmful bacteria can reach other parts of your body, including the heart and lungs.
8. Prioritize sleep and rest. Most adults should get between seven and nine hours per night, which can help prevent heart disease and possibly some forms of cancer. You feel more alert and energetic during the day, and it can help relieve stress.
9. Keep a positive outlook and manage stress. There are many ways to approach this, but all include taking some time for yourself and knowing what can calm your negative emotions, especially in stressful situations. Some ways to cope include:
- Staying in touch with friends and family, by phone or online if not in person.
- Maintain a positive outlook and find hobbies or interests which keep you happy.
- Keep your sense of curiosity and wonder alive, remembering that lifelong learning keeps our minds healthier and stronger.
- Cope with stress in healthy ways including exercise, healthy eating habits, and mediation, deep breathing and other calming practices.
- Talk to your health provider if you experience symptoms of depression for more than a few days. If you or someone you know has thoughts of suicide, get help right away. Call 911, a local crisis center or (800) SUICIDE.
10. Keep in touch with your health provider. If you have symptoms you’re concerned about, let him or her know quickly for instructions on what to do next. Keep all appointments, in person or through whatever telemedicine arrangements are made. Stay current on all needed vaccines at your doctor’s office, pharmacy or other source. Yavapai County Community Health Services provides immunizations for adults and children.
Sources: www.UCSFhealth.org, www.mayoclinic.org, www.yavapai.us/chs, www.verywellhealth.com
Visit from a physical distance with these virtual tours
The Hidden World of National Parks www.artsandculture.withgoogle.com/en-us/ —From Google Arts and Culture, this high-def, ranger-led virtual tour takes viewers to hidden corners of five national parks: Kenai Fjords, Hawaii Volcanoes, Carlsbad Caverns, Bryce Canyon and Dry Tortugas. The National Park Service also offers virtual tours of many locations, including Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Rocky Mountain and Smoky Mountain.
The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History has some excellent virtual tours at https://naturalhistory.si.edu/visit/virtual-tour, allowing a close-up look at current and past exhibits about the flora and fauna of the Americas—and a little bit about the people, too.
If that’s not enough with you, Google has partnered with thousands of museums from around the world to gather their virtual tours at https://artsandculture.google.com/partner?hl=en. Most appear to be art-based, but there science and history hotspots galore.
See the highlights of the Great Wall of China at www.thechinaguide.com/destination/great-wall-of-china with 360-degree views of the ancient, seemingly endless wall, with details about every major section including travel time, steepness and photo ops.
Buckingham Palace, the Vatican, the Pyramids, the Taj Mahal and Moscow’s Red Square are but a very few of the other global attractions covered by virtual tours.
Visit Mars through a virtual tour composed of images taken by the Curiosity rover at https://accessmars.withgoogle.com/#, where you can see images in 360-degree mode while the site is being updated for virtual reality and augmented reality devices.
NASA also provides tours extensive tours of the moon (www.moon.nasa.gov/resources/168/tour-of-the-moon-4k/) and the International Space Station (www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/suni_iss_tour.html).