The following article was featured in the July/August 2020 issue of North Idaho Wellness Magazine, and was written by our talented NP, Jana Pedersen.

“Consistently maintaining 5 healthy habits can help decrease the chance of suffering from some of the most common chronic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. These habits can also help you feel better and live longer. 

These 5 healthy habits include:

  1. Quit smoking
  2. Get enough sleep
  3. Eat a healthy diet
  4. Exercise regularly
  5. Drink alcohol in moderation

Habit #1 Quit Smoking

Remember all the risks of smoking and why you should quit. Make a list and place it where you can see it often.

Plan for urges to smoke and identify triggers that may come up. Make a plan to deal with these triggers. 

Ask for help. Enlist the support of friends and family to encourage your success. Discuss quitting options, including pharmaceuticals, with your primary care provider. 

Habit #2 Get Enough Sleep

The average adult needs 7-8 hours of sleep nightly. 

Create a relaxing bedtime routine that avoids screens (phones, tablets, computers, TV) at least 1 hour prior to sleep.

Establish a regular bedtime and wake-up time that allows for 8 hours in bed.

Upon waking view bright outside light. This helps set your circadian rhythm.

Exercise and consume caffeine earlier in the day to avoid any stimulating effects that may keep you awake. 

Be aware of signs of sleep apnea (loud snoring, observed episodes of stopped breathing during sleep, waking with a dry mouth or sore throat, morning headache, excessive daytime sleepiness). Ask your provider about a home sleep test if you suspect this may affect you.

Habit #3 Eat a Healthy Diet

Eat a diet that emphasizes vegetables, fruits, lean protein sources, and whole grains.

The Mediterranean diet has been proven again and again to provide health benefits and is a good template to follow.

Aim for 6-10 fruits and vegetables daily, focusing on fresh products.

Avoid packaged items with more than 5 ingredients. The less processed the better.

Limit added sugar. Excess sugar can increase insulin resistance, a precursor to Type 2 diabetes, fatty liver, cardiovascular disease, and general inflammation. 

Habit #4 Exercise Regularly

Move more. Take the opportunity to use the stairs, park farther away, and take “Exercise Snacks” when you can fit them in. Exercise snacks are short periods of movement you can do while you are waiting for something else. Waiting for dinner to cook? – Do 10 squats or 10 wall push ups. Sitting for work all day?  Stand up the start of every hour and move! – jumping jacks, lunges, toe raises etc for 10-20 reps.

Dedicate 30 minutes at least 3 times a week to a physical activity you enjoy, walking, hiking, biking, tennis, swimming, softball, soccer etc. Choosing activities you enjoy will help you maintain a regular habit of movement. 

Habit #5 Drink Alcohol in Moderation

Moderation means an average of one to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. (A drink is one 12 oz beer, 4 oz. wine, 1.5 oz. of 80-proof spirits, or 1 oz. of 100-proof spirits.)

Limiting alcohol can increase your health, lower your blood pressure.

Following these 5 habits can help you be 82% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease and 65% less likely to die from cancer. (American Heart Association). They can also help you feel better and live a happier life. 

Have questions? Want to know your baseline health status? Need help getting started? Contact your primary healthcare provider. We are happy to help you on your path to beginning and maintaining a healthier lifestyle!”

Jana Pedersen is a Nurse Practitioner at Active Family Healthcare in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.