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  • Sep 13, 2016

The few things you should always do for your health

David Elvin, MD, shares a few simple steps on how to keep you and your loved ones healthy.

Many of us spend a few minutes every day thinking about health. For me, these thoughts come and go. I ask myself things like “should I have ice cream tonight?” “should I take the stairs instead of the elevator” or “I wonder if I should change my diet?" Everyone has these thoughts which unfortunately can be fleeting.

With health, we often have the best intentions. But given our busy lives and competing priorities, it’s the squeaky wheel that gets the grease. This is true of health as well. If you or a loved one is sick, seeing the doctor is a top priority. If you are feeling well, health and healthcare are less important.

So when patients ask “what could I be doing to maintain or improve my health?” I tell them this:

First, divide your activities into things you should start doing, stop doing and keep doing. Nobody’s perfect nor should we try to be… but exercising, stopping smoking and continuing to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables are great examples. Don’t forget that a very important thing to start doing is getting preventive care and screenings when you are due.

Here is an example: we know colorectal cancer is one of the most common cancers for both women and men in the United States. But did you know that 50,000 deaths a year could be potentially prevented with routine colon cancer screening? Yet, many of us still don’t get a colonoscopy starting at age 50 (or younger if you have a family history).

Every day the news or talk shows suggest some test or questions another. It may be confusing to know what to do or whom to listen to. To help you understand these screenings, we’ve added some helpful information to the CHA website. Click here to find out if you or a loved one might be due for an annual well visit, colon cancer screening, diabetes visit, high blood pressure check or (for women) a breast cancer or cervical cancer screening. You can also call your CHA primary care center and ask. Some screenings can be done by your primary care team. Others, like colon and breast screenings, use special equipment.

So the next time you ask yourself what to put on your healthy “to do” list, consider adding a few things that will potentially save your life. You’ll be glad you did and then you can get to the good stuff on the list… like ice cream.

This articles provide general information for educational purposes only. The information provided in this article, or through linkages to other sites, is not a substitute for medical or professional care, and you should not use the information in place of a visit, call consultation or the advice of your physician or other healthcare provider.

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