A healthy lifestyle can help you thrive as you move through your life's journey. Making healthy choices isn't always easy — it can be hard to find the time and energy to exercise regularly or prepare healthy meals. However, your efforts will pay off in many ways, and for the rest of your life.
Steps you can take:
- Be physically active for 30 minutes most days of the week. Break this up into three 10-minute sessions when pressed for time. Healthy movement may include walking, sports, dancing, yoga or running.
- Eat a well-balanced, low-fat diet with lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Choose a diet that's low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and moderate in sugar, salt and total fat.
- Avoid injury by wearing seatbelts and bike helmets, using smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in the home, and using street smarts when walking alone. If you own a gun, recognize the dangers of having a gun in your home. Use safety precautions at all times.
- Don't smoke, and quit if you do. Ask your health care provider for help. UCSF offers a smoking cessation program.
- If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation. Never drink before or when driving, or when pregnant.
- Ask someone you trust for help if you think you might be addicted to drugs or alcohol.
- Help prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV/AIDS by using condoms every time you have sexual contact. Keep in mind, condoms are not 100 percent foolproof, so discuss STI screening with your provider. Birth control methods other than condoms, such as pills and implants, won't protect you from STIs or HIV.
- Brush your teeth after meals with a soft or medium bristled toothbrush. Also brush after drinking, before going to bed. Use dental floss daily.
- Stay out of the sun, especially between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. when the sun's harmful rays are strongest. Don't think you are safe if it is cloudy or if you are in the water, as harmful rays pass through both. Use a broad spectrum sunscreen that guards against both UVA and UVB rays, with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. Select sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of the sun's rays.
You may feel pulled in different directions and experience stress from dealing with work, family and other matters, leaving little time for yourself. Learning to balance your life with some time for yourself will pay off with big benefits — a healthy outlook and better health.
Steps you can take:
- Stay in touch with family and friends.
- Be involved in your community.
- Maintain a positive attitude and do things that make you happy.
- Keep your curiosity alive. Lifelong learning is beneficial to your health.
- Healthy intimacy takes all forms but is always free of coercion.
- Learn to recognize and manage stress in your life. Signs of stress include trouble sleeping, frequent headaches and stomach problems; being angry a lot; and turning to food, drugs and alcohol to relieve stress.
Good ways to deal with stress include regular exercise, healthy eating habits, and relaxation exercises such as deep breathing or meditation. Talking to trusted family members and friends can help a lot. Some women find that interacting with their faith community is helpful in times of stress.
- Get enough sleep and rest — adults need around eight hours of sleep a night.
- Talk to your health care provider if you feel depressed for more than a few days. Depression is a treatable illness. Signs of depression include feeling empty and sad, crying a lot, loss of interest in life, and thoughts of death or suicide. If you or someone you know has thoughts of suicide, get help right away. Call 911, a local crisis center or (800) SUICIDE.
Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or health care provider. We encourage you to discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.