Advocating for your own health and well-being can be challenging at times simply due to a lack of understanding in regards to things like creating a healthy diet, finding ways to stay active, and taking control of your medical records. The good news is that there are actually several simple things you can do to focus on your wellness and be an advocate for your physical and mental health, whether you’re at home or at the doctor’s office.
In this article Pittsburgh Runner contributor Jennifer McGregor, of publichealthlibrary.org, shares a few tips on how to improve your lifestyle and take charge of your health.
Find small ways to get active
It’s possible to stay active even if you lead a very busy lifestyle or work a job that’s mostly sedentary. JustStand.org notes that the key is to find small ways to move and stand every day, such as going for a walk on your lunch break, parking far away from the doors of the supermarket, or taking the stairs at work.
Not only can finding activity in small doses help you easily carve time for movement out of your schedule, but it can also help you stay motivated and prevent boredom with a particular workout because you’re changing things up each time. Want to add some fun to your routine? The British Heart Foundation suggests getting involved in a team sport, or investing in some simple gear so you can head to the local park and shoot hoops by yourself.
Create a healthy diet that really works
When it comes to eating better, many people find that limiting themselves only creates the desire for things they’re trying to avoid, such as chocolate or fast food. As long as you’re getting in daily activity, it’s probably okay to create a diet for yourself that allows for those cravings in moderation while ensuring that you’re getting everything you need–namely, protein-rich fish and lean chicken, green vegetables, and whole grains–in every meal. These foods will help you stay energized and keep you feeling good so you can play your favorite sport.
Work from home more often
Also consider cutting your commute time to work. It's a seemingly small step that can have a big impact on health. Discuss working from home more with your boss; make a case by noting better health, increased productivity and improved focus. If you're one of many adults taking classes, look for online options. Everything from IT certifications to nursing degrees can be completed via the web, and it's often far less costly than campus-only coursework.
Take control of your medical records
While managing your diet and workout routines can be challenging, it’s nothing compared to keeping up with all the paperwork involved when you have to see a doctor or specialist, yet doing so is an important part of becoming your own health advocate. Knowing exactly what medications have been prescribed, what occurred at doctor visits, and what your physical health stats are is an important part of staying on top of your wellbeing, and keeping those documents organized is essential so you can turn in signed forms as soon as possible, especially if you’re going to play a team sport and need a physical or specific sports medicine visits for injuries or pain.
Make sure your healthcare professionals are right for you
Finding the right healthcare professionals can be frustrating at times, especially if you’re limited by your health insurance provider as to which caregivers you can choose from. However, it’s important to make sure the ones you pick take the time to listen to your needs and that they offer the right services. If you feel your chosen caregiver isn’t as forthcoming as you’d like, exercise your right to get a second opinion or even look for a new caregiver.
Taking control of your health by becoming your own advocate can mean many things, so think about what your wellness goals are. By getting active, finding the right sports community, eating the right diet, and using online tools to keep your documents organized, you can ensure that you’re always on the best possible health path.
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Ken Presutti is a certified ChiRunning instructor, ACE Personal trainer, Spinning instructor, and coach. This blog is a mix of new articles and posts from his original blog, Overkill is Underrated.