Avera Medical Minute: Improving your health at home

Published: Sep. 8, 2022 at 5:46 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Family medicine physician Dr. Kate Boos from Avera Health says there are four simple ways to improve your health outside of a clinic.

1) Ease into exercise

“I encourage people to go for a goal of 30 minutes of exercise most days a week, but we can absolutely start low and go slow if this is new for you. Whether that be just going on a 10-minute walk every day, increasing that by 5 to 10 minutes a week, and getting up to that goal is one way to start. Another option is doing a home workout routine or joining a fitness class. We know that working out is going to release those feel-good hormones, things like serotonin, and dopamine, so it’s going to help improve your mood. The other thing that really helps is if you’re working out by yourself, it’s going to give you more solitude. You can really process and think through some things, but if you work out as a group that helps too because you’re going to be building a connection. We know there are cardiovascular benefits from exercise, so it’s going to help your heart health. Things like muscle strength and flexibility, it’s going to help your balance which will help reduce your risk of falls. As you get older, falling becomes more concerning especially if there is osteopenia and osteoporosis. Regular weight-bearing exercise is going to help improve your bone strength too.”

2) Make sleep a priority

“A couple of other things we can really focus on is making sleep a priority. I think this is something we’re understanding more about now. Sleep is really when your body gets a chance to rest and recharge and regenerate, so we really encourage you to try and get a minimum of seven to eight hours each night. I talk with patients about focusing on a nighttime routine. Things like avoiding caffeine in the afternoon or early evening, or avoiding screen time. Screens of any sort whether it be laptops or iPads, or your phone tend to emit a blue light, which is very energizing to your brain. So we really want to avoid that screen time within an hour or two before bed. Finally, try to make sure your room is dark and quiet.

3) Eating healthier

“Another habit would be eating healthy. This is something I talk with patients about day in and day out. I really try to focus on making sure we don’t think of foods as good or bad. [Instead] is this food going to be a good choice to fuel my body for what I need to do? We think of food as fuel, and our body is the engine so prioritize fruits and vegetables. They’re really nutrient-dense foods that are low-calorie, healthy fats, lean proteins, and whole grains. Try to cut back on processed foods, especially those that are high in sugar. When I talk with my patients who have been really successful with weight loss, one of the top things they tell me they did to lose that weight was to cut down on sugar and increase their water intake. That’s another thing we can do is make sure we’re staying well hydrated. I think most of us kind of live in a chronic state of dehydration and water really helps our body reduce inflammation and work at its best. I also think we sometimes misunderstand the cues our body is giving us. Our body might be telling us we’re thirsty, but we interpret that as we’re hungry. Drinking more water can also help reduce weight if you are overeating. There are certain health conditions where people are on fluid restrictions. If that applies to you, talk to your doctor about this first; otherwise, healthy nutrition is really a good way to help reduce your weight, reduce your inflammation, and just overall generally feel better.

4) Manage your habits

“Lastly, if you have any habits that you want to change, maybe tobacco or alcohol use, and you’re looking to cut back or abstain. Please come talk to your provider we can help you set up a strategy to help you achieve those goals.