HARRISBURG – Secretary of Health Dr. Karen Murphy is encouraging Pennsylvanians to add easy health choices to their list of New Year’s resolutions.
“Many of us make resolutions to better ourselves in the New Year,” Murphy said. “This year, I would like to encourage everyone to take important steps that will improve your health throughout 2017.”
Items to add to your healthy resolutions list include:
- Getting vaccinated.The best way to prevent the flu and many other diseases is to get vaccinated. With flu activity now widespread in Pennsylvania, other steps you can take to avoid the flu include: washing your hands often; covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough or sneeze – never your hands; avoiding touching your mouth, nose or eyes; cleaning frequently used surfaces like phones, doorknobs and countertops; and staying home from school or work when you have the flu.
- Visiting your primary care provider.Make an appointment with your primary care provider for a check-up, vaccination or routine screening. Regular health exams and tests can help find problems before they start. They can also help find problems early, when your chances for full recovery are better.
- Making healthy food choices. Your healthy eating plan should include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts. Your diet should be low in saturated fats, transfats, cholesterol, salt and added sugars. If you are pregnant or the mother of an infant or young child, you may qualify for WICbenefits to cover the cost of healthy foods.
- Being active. If losing weightis on your New Year’s resolution list, it’s vital to monitor not just your diet, but also your activity. Winter’s limited daylight and cold temperatures mean many people are less active. Regular exercise is best for your health, but even minor changes can make a significant difference, like taking brisk walks, using the stairs instead of elevators when possible and parking in distant spots in parking lots.
- Getting enough sleep.Lack of sleep is associated with a number of chronic diseases and conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and depression. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following sleep guidelines: newborns – 16-18 hours; preschool-aged children – 11-12 hours; school-aged children – at least 10 hours; teens – 9-10 hours; and all adults – minimum of 7-8 hours.
- Prioritizing overall wellness in your life. Start 2017 off on the right foot by making your health a priority. This can include: quitting smoking (1-800-QUIT-NOW or 1-855-DEJELO-YA); protecting yourself against tick-borne illnesses like Lyme disease; and making sure you take steps to prevent mosquito-borne illnesses in Pennsylvania (like West Nile Virus) and when traveling (like Zika).
Following these tips will provide a solid foundation for starting 2017 in a safe and healthy way. For more information about how to stay healthy, visit the Department of Health Web site at www.health.pa.gov or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.