January 28, 2021

Set health goals for 2021

BLUFFTON, Ind. — A new year means a fresh start — and an opportunity to focus on your mental and physical health.

Molly Hoag, Purdue Extension educator in Wells County, shared six health saving tips during a webinar.

“We can do small things each day to make a big difference in the long run,” she said.

“Prevention is something you can do in little bits throughout your day. It does not have to be so overwhelming. Just little things you can do here and there for your health — think of the little things adding up to bigger rewards later. It doesn’t have to be intimidating.”

6 Health Saving Activities

1. Eat healthy.

“What we put into our bodies helps us function,” Hoag said. “We need to have good nutrition in order for our bodies to perform their best. It’s just like a vehicle. You have to have fuel and maintenance for your car to work properly.

“My Plate is a visual icon that helps us build a healthier plate based on what it looks like. Imagine a line down the middle. If you put half of your foods as fruits and vegetables, you’re almost there to having a healthy diet.”

Learn more at www.choosemyplate.gov.

2. Be active every day.

“Walk your dog every day,” Hoag said. “Meet a friend for a daily walk instead of going out for coffee. That’s going to be healthier for you.”

The daily recommendation for physical activity is about two and half hours a week for adults.

Children and teens need to be active for a full hour each day.

“The great thing about being active is it helps us sleep better, manage our weight and more,” Hoag said.

3. Protect yourself and others.

“Wear sunscreen when you’re outside and seatbelts in a car,” Hoag suggested. “Use insect repellent when you’re outside. Wear a helmet when you’re on a bicycle. Prevent spreading germs by washing your hands often.

“Avoid using tobacco and being exposed to second hand smoke. Make an escape plan in case of a fire. Make an emergency kit for your home. Keep your food at the proper temperature to reduce foodborne illness.”

Putting safety first is crucial for your wellbeing.

4. Manage stress in healthy ways.

“We’ve all managed to work through the stressful year we’re in,” Hoag said. “We have to think of ways to manage stress in a healthy way. Take time to smile and laugh each day. Keep a positive outlook. Do things that make you happy.

“Read a book, take up gardening, do puzzles, take a walk, dance, call a friend, learn something new. Mental health is so important — it’s OK to need help, but it’s not OK to hide it and refuse to get the help you need.”

5. Get plenty of sleep.

Adults need an average of seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Children need more, based on their age.

“Daily physical activity will help you sleep better,” Hoag said.

“You want your bedroom to be dark, cool and quiet. Avoid caffeine, chocolate, nicotine and alcohol several hours before bed. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Keeping a schedule will improve your sleep.”

6. Get regular check-ups.

“Think about getting that yearly physical,” Hoag said. “This year was very challenging — some of those annual visits were probably postponed or canceled. But take time for yourself. Those prevention screenings and vaccinations can save your life.”

Erica Quinlan

Field Editor