As 2021 ends, it’s time to take stock of the preventive steps you’ve taken (and haven’t) over the past year, so you can plan for a healthier 2022. What are some relatively simple (but often overlooked) preventive health measures to take?
It’s only natural to want to enjoy all the rich, sweet treats of the holiday season. But like everything else in life, moderation is key. This is also an excellent time to commit to a healthier diet for 2022.
If you haven’t paid attention to nutritional guidelines since the days of the five food groups, it’s worth taking a new look. Today’s nutritional guidance is based on a concept known as MyPlate, which takes into account your age, gender, height and weight, and overall activity level to create personalized recommendations. It’s worth working your way through the process.
In general, though, MyPlate is based on the latest dietary guidelines. For adults ages 19 to 59, specific portions vary by recommended caloric intake (based on age and gender), but ranges include:
- 2 to 4 cups per day, including a mix of dark green vegetables, red and orange vegetables, beans and lentils, and starchy vegetables
- 1.5 to 2.5 cups per day
- 5 to 10 ounces per day, including a mix of whole and refined grains
- 3 cups per day
- 5 to 7 ounces per day, including a mix of meats and eggs, seafood, and nuts and seeds
- 22 to 44 grams per day
Note that the guidelines are different for adults age 60 and over, as well as for teens and kids. If this all seems like too much math, don’t despair! The most important takeaway is that it’s important to eat a varied diet with a mix of food types and colors. It’s fine to eat some candy and other non-nutritional treats, as long as most of your daily calories go to healthier choices.
Exercise offers numerous physical and mental health benefits. The CDC recommends that all adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity, such as walking or pushing a lawnmower, each week. You can break this down into 30 minutes five days per week, and it’s okay to divide it up even further, such as three 10-minute walks per day. You should also do some muscle-strengthening activity at least twice a week. Or you can do 75 minutes of cardio per week, along with two days of muscle-strengthening activity. Of course, you’ll see even more benefits if you exceed these minimums. Benefits of physical exercise include:
- Lower risk for Type 2 diabetes and some cancers
- Healthier weight
- Stabilizing blood pressure
- Elevated mood
- Better sleep
- Sharper focus
- Less stress
Talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you have any underlying health conditions. Also keep in mind that if you’re not a gym rat, you don’t have to do traditional “exercise.” Anything that gets your body moving counts, from dancing to vacuuming to shooting hoops with a friend.
Mental health awareness
The COVID-19 pandemic has been tough on everyone, and you may feel more stressed out than usual. But even before the pandemic, one in every five adults was living with a mental illness. Now is a great time to make a commitment to caring for your mental health.
If you’re feeling depressed, anxious, or otherwise mentally unhealthy, consider taking an online screening test. While these screeners have certain limitations that make them less clinically reliable than a traditional therapist-administered test, they can help you determine whether your symptoms may indicate a problem. If your results show that you may be suffering from a mental health condition, make an appointment with a mental health professional for a full clinical assessment.
As we enter 2022, make a renewed commitment to caring for both your mind and body. It’s never too late to improve your health!
It’s cold and flu season again, and we’re still in the middle of a global pandemic. Now is the time to make sure all of your vaccinations are up to date. In addition to COVID-19 and annual flu vaccines, ask your doctor or check your health records to see if you’re due for other shots.
You may also need additional vaccinations if you have certain underlying conditions, work in healthcare, or travel internationally. Ask your doctor which shots are right for you.
This is a great time to schedule your annual checkups, especially if you have access to EHE Health, which offers the only exam that covers 100% of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended screenings. Many of these assessments depend on your age, gender, and specific risk factors. Find out which screenings are right for you by talking with your doctor.