Sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day to cross off everything on your to-do list. With work and social engagements, you’ve got so much on your plate that you barely have time to schedule wellness checkups for yourself or your family, let alone make organically grown meals and stay current on the latest fitness trends. So how do you stay healthy when your schedule is packed? Try this:
We all know that getting outdoors is so important for your overall physical and emotional well-being. But starting an exercise routine can be daunting. The good news is that just taking that first step will get you on track to being more active, and whatever you do doesn’t have to be perfect.
“When it comes to fitness, you don’t have to have to go from couch potato to marathoner,” said Kathryn McLeod, MD, a pediatrician with the Children’s Hospital of Georgia and a professor of pediatrics at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University. “You don’t have to have the right workout clothes. Just take a walk around the block, walk to the store rather than driving or play softball through a local organization.”
McLeod stresses the importance of finding an exercise partner to encourage you when you when you least feel like exercising. If you have kids, getting the whole family involved makes it easier for everyone to stay active and encourage each other.
When you find yourself caught up in the day-to-day and you barely have the time to relax, that’s when sleep is most important. Nearly a fifth of Americans don’t get enough sleep, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Everybody needs somewhere between six and eight hours of sleep a day, and when you don’t get that sleep you build up a sleep debt and you don’t function well,” said Richard W. Sams, II, MD, a family medicine physician and associate professor of family medicine at the Medical College of Georgia.
“When we’re sleep-deprived, we’re more depressed and irritable.”
To maintain good sleep habits, Sams recommends staying active throughout the day, avoiding caffeinated beverages in the afternoon and shutting off all electronics well before bedtime to ensure good quality, uninterrupted sleep.
If you find yourself in the drive-thru at your local fast food eatery a little more often than you’d like, take heart in the fact that eating right is easier than you think. Simply shop smart and emphasize fruits, veggies, dairy, lean meats and fish over carbs and sugar.
“A quarter of your plate should be meat, half should be fruits and vegetables, and a quarter should be carbohydrates,” McLeod said.
For kids, McLeod counsels limiting carbs such as pasta, rice and bread, and offering milk and water in place of sugary drinks.
“I really stress the hidden calories in liquids, so we would recommend milk and water,” McLeod said, “but juice, Kool-Aid, Gatorade, tea and soda are what a lot of kids are drinking. All of those have sugar; they have no nutrients and lots of calories.”
Having a regular checkup with your doctor is the first step to preventing illness. In addition to ruling out high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity, your physician can help you get the screening tests you need at every age, such as tests for certain cancers, diabetes and osteoporosis.
For kids, your pediatrician has a schedule of regular checkups and the vaccines they should receive at each visit. “We have very specific visits and most of them have a shot included,” McLeod says.
And don’t forget regular dental exams: “Everybody should see their dentist at least annually and more frequently if their dentist has told them to do so,” Sams says.