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A Healthy Lifestyle: Care Instructions

Your Care Instructions

A healthy lifestyle can help you feel good and have plenty of energy for both work and play. A healthy lifestyle is something you can share with your whole family.

A healthy lifestyle also can lower your risk for serious health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.

You can follow a few steps listed below to improve your health and the health of your family.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Do not eat too much sugar, fat, or fast foods. You can still have dessert and treats now and then. The goal is moderation.
  • Start small to improve your eating habits. Swap drinks with added sugar like juice and soda pop for water. Eat more whole vegetables and fruits. Follow Canada's food guide:
    • Half the plate is vegetables and fruits. Examples are broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, tomatoes, apples, oranges, and blueberries.
    • One-fourth of the plate is whole grain foods. Examples are whole grain bread, brown rice, oatmeal, and whole grain cereal.
    • One-fourth is protein foods. Examples are lean beef, chicken, turkey, pork, fish, tofu, eggs, beans, and lentils.
    • Make water your drink of choice.
  • If you need help making changes to your family's eating habits, visit ahs.ca/nutrition to find a dietitian in your area.
  • Make exercise part of your daily routine. You may want to start with simple activities, such as walking, bicycling, or slow swimming. Aim for at least 2½ hours a week of moderate to vigorous activity. You do not need to do all 2½ hours all at once. For example, you can exercise 5 times a week for 30 minutes. Moderate exercise is safe for most people, but it is always a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program.
  • Keep moving. Mow the lawn, work in the garden, or clean your house. Take the stairs instead of the elevator at work.
  • If you smoke, quitting is one of the best things you can do to improve your health. People who smoke have an increased risk for heart attack, stroke, cancer, and other lung illnesses. Quitting is hard, but there are ways to boost your chance of quitting tobacco for good.
    • Use nicotine gum, patches, or lozenges.
    • Ask your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines.
    • Keep trying.
    • Visit Myhealth.alberta.ca/Tobacco-Smoking-Vaping for more information or call 1-866-710-7848 to get help to quit smoking.
    In addition to reducing your risk of diseases in the future, you will notice some benefits soon after you stop using tobacco. If you have shortness of breath or asthma symptoms, they will likely get better within a few weeks after you quit.
  • If you don’t smoke, try to avoid second-hand smoke. It can be harmful to your health. Second-hand smoke is exhaled by a person, or the smoke that comes from the end of a burning tobacco product.
  • Limit how much alcohol you drink. Moderate amounts of alcohol (up to 3 drinks a day for men, 2 drinks a day for women) are okay. But drinking too much can lead to liver problems, high blood pressure, and other health problems.

Family health

If you have a family, there are many things you can do together to improve your health.

  • Eat meals together as a family as often as possible.
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods. This includes vegetables and fruits, protein foods, and whole grain foods.
  • Include your family in your fitness plan. Most people think of activities such as jogging or tennis as the way to fitness, but there are many ways you and your family can be more active. Anything that makes you breathe hard and gets your heart pumping is exercise. Here are some tips:
    • Walk to do errands or to take your child to school or the bus.
    • Go for a family bike ride after dinner instead of watching TV.
  • Remember physical activity needs are different depending on if you are an adult or a child. The Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines (csepguidelines.ca) recommend adults ages 18 to 64 try and get at least 2½ hours of moderate to vigorous physical activity each week. Moderate to vigorous physical activity means the activity brings up your heart rate and makes you breathe harder, like biking, a fast walk, or dancing.
  • Encourage your family to replace being inactive (sedentary) with light physical activity or play. Reduce your daily screen time.
    • Recreational screen time is not recommended for children under the age of 2. If your child is between 2 to 4 years old, less than 1 hour is recommended each day. For children and teens 5 to 17, no more than 2 hours is recommended each day. For adults 17 to 64 years old, no more than 3 hours of recreational screen time is recommended each day.

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