As summer comes to a close, and many families prepare for the busy fall and winter seasons ahead, taking time for health and wellness can easily be forgotten. Although the colder temperatures may drive some to spend more time indoors, there still are many ways you can keep active both physically and mentally.
Keep an Active Lifestyle
A sedentary or inactive lifestyle is one that involves excessive amounts of sitting or lying down, with little to no physical activity or exercise. According to the United States National Library of Medicine, people worldwide are spending more time in sedentary activities than ever before. With the increased use of cell phones, computers and other technological devices (such as video games and televisions), much of our leisure time is spent sitting. Not only that, but many of today’s jobs require sitting in one spot for a long period of time. With an inactive lifestyle, you are more likely to:
- Burn fewer calories and gain weight
- Lose muscle strength
- Have poor blood circulation
- Have an increase in inflammation throughout your body
- Develop a hormonal imbalance
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), regular physical activity helps reduce your risk of chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, certain types of cancers, depression and even dementia.
How much activity do you need to help lower your risk of chronic disease?
- Kids, aged 6-17, need 60 minutes or more of physical activity each day.
- Adults, aged 18+, need 150 minutes each week of moderate aerobic exercise such as walking, and at least two days a week of strength training.
Consider making your daily activity a family affair by going for after-dinner walks or bike rides. By being active together, you can stop your sedentary habits and reach your daily activity goals as a team.
Keep Your Brain Active
Not only is it essential to stay physically active throughout the year but also it’s important to keep your mental health in mind as well. Though your brain is not a muscle, treating it as one and training it with memory-boosting activities can keep your memory sharp. Take the time a few nights a week to do something that mentally stimulates your mind such as a crossword puzzle or a memory game. These brain-boosting activities will help keep your mind and memory sharp; however, not all of them are created equal. To make the most out of the activity, and find the best fit for you, select ones that require your full attention, that have various skill levels for growth and that, ultimately, leave you feeling accomplished and rewarded.
Additionally, The National Sleep Foundation states that a good night's rest is needed for memory consolidation (the process where your brain converts short-term memories into long-term ones). Getting the daily recommended hours of sleep (at least eight hours per night) also can increase focus and improve your problem-solving skills. By setting and sticking to a consistent bedtime, you will be allowing your brain the rest it needs to work to the best of its ability each day.
If you are looking for more brainpower tips, read Five Ways to Keep Your Brain Young.
Stay Up to Date on Your Health Screenings
Doing your part at home to keep a healthy lifestyle, both physically and mentally, is essential — but it doesn’t take the place of attending your regular doctor appointments and keeping up with routine testing. The type of testing you should have can vary based on your gender, age and health risks. That's why it's essential to talk with your primary care physician about the proper course of testing for you.
For women, a well-woman visit with your gynecologist will often include a review of your health history, a physical exam and often a pelvic exam, followed by a pap test. Different testing may be suggested based on your health history and age.
By sticking to your recommended appointments, you will be able to build a trusting and open relationship with your doctor, allowing you to have a better understanding of your reproductive health, which may help ease the stress of decisions such as when to start a family. Additionally, it provides for a smoother transition to menopause later on in life.
Well-woman visits also play a key role in disease prevention. Each test you undergo and every question your doctor asks, will help your doctor determine your risk factors, spot any warning signs early on and find the best course of treatment for you.
Important Male Screenings
For men, an annual physical often will include checking your vital signs (such as heart rate and blood pressure), screening for medical problems and an assessment of future risks. At your annual check-up, your doctor will discuss with you any additional testing or screenings you may need. These preventive screenings will vary based on your age and family history, but they should help spot any signs of illness or disease as early as possible. Some of the most common screenings include:
- Screenings for colorectal, lung and prostate cancer
- Heart disease and cholesterol screenings
The National Cancer Institute recommends prostate and colorectal cancer screenings start at aged 50 or sooner, depending on your family history. Visiting your doctor for well visits, and keeping up with the recommended testing and blood work, allows you to better understand your disease risks fully, so you can make the necessary changes you need to reduce your chances of illness.
Discover a Family Wellness Routine
Though eating healthy, staying active and keeping up with doctors appointments may seem overwhelming, with the right routine, it can be much easier than you think. Consider setting a routine for the whole family, including a consistent bedtime, healthy meal preparation and making time for physical activity. This might include simple activities such as nightly walks or bike rides while the weather is still enjoyable.
Additionally, stay mentally fit by working together on puzzles and brain-boosting activities. Not only will you be taking an active part in your health and mental wellness, but you’ll be creating some valuable family bonding time, too.
At Southwest General Medical Group, Inc., our primary and specialty care physicians are committed to working closely with you and your family to achieve optimal health and wellness, no matter the season. To learn more about our services or schedule an appointment, visit our website.