Just as regular maintenance is health insurance for your car, it is also health insurance for your body. Maintaining your health now will prevent you from needing major "repairs" later. Making healthy choices now will save you a lot of trouble in the future.
Just 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day, or most days, can make a big difference in your physical and mental health. You can break up the exercise into 10-minute periods of activity throughout the day, such as walking, biking, raking leaves, or even cleaning your room. Or, go dancing or walk to get your groceries. The IMA on the UW-Seattle campus offers hundreds of exercise and fitness opportunities. Whatever you do, make it fun and convenient.
If you drink, do it moderately and don't drink and drive. Drinking too much or too regularly can be hazardous to your health, both in increasing accidents and increasing your risk of many cancers, as well as cirrhosis of the liver and other diseases. Pregnant women shouldn't drink at all. If you have a problem with drinking, Hall Health may be able to help!
Smoking and tobacco are harmful to your health in many ways. Smoking and smokeless tobacco are major killers of Americans; cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the US and worldwide. Smoking exacerbates almost all serious conditions, like diabetes and heart disease, and impairs your body's ability to heal from injury and illness. If you are interested in getting some help in addressing your tobacco use, you may be eligible for cessation treatment and support at no cost through Hall Health.
Discuss symptoms with a health care provider if you suspect you have depression. Depression is a common illness affecting college students and can cause you to have persistent sad mood, inability to concentrate, and disordered eating and sleeping. Depression is not a personal weakness and can be effectively treated in over 80% of people. If you think you might be suffering from depression, consider reaching out for help. Hall Health Center's Mental Health Clinic offers treatment options, as does the UW Counseling Center.
Learn about your body so you know when something is not right, Ask your health care provider about lumps or other things that seem different or unusual. Depending on your age and medical history, you may need additional tests that can be performed by your medical provider.
Make sure you've kept up on your immunizations. You may be susceptible to vaccine-preventable diseases if your immunizations aren't current. It's a good idea to get the Hepatitis B and HPV series of vaccinations if you haven't yet. You should get a new tetanus shot every ten years and a flu shot every year. Hall Health offers a range of vaccinations.
A check is recommended for all adults every year or two. High cholesterol and high blood pressure are leading causes of stroke, heart disease and kidney failure.
Don't forget to spend time playing or relaxing. Hall Health Center offers group classes in mindfulness meditation that may help with stress. Make sure you are getting enough sleep; you'll feel better, look better and be more productive during the day.
Limit the fried foods, rich salad dressings and desserts. Instead, go for the lower-fat items and make sure you get five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. You will feel and look your best. Also, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and certain cancers and linked to diet. Together these diseases account for nearly tow-thirds of the 2 million deaths a year in the United States. It is also important to make sure you're getting at least 1000 mg of calcium a day. Women should also be getting 0.4 mg of folate (a B vitamin) each day.
Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among people ages 1 to 35 and cause 45,000 deaths, 4 million injuries and 500,000 hospitalizations a year. Wearing a seatbelt reduces the risk of death and serious injury by 50 percent. Each day in the United States, more than 9 people are killed and more than 1,060 people are injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver. Keep your eyes on the road and your cell phone out of reach when you drive.
Seattle is a great place to ride. The evidence is clear that a helmet can save your life or prevent major head injury. Hall Health Center offers low-cost safety equipment for bikes, snowboards and skateboards.
You can reduce your risk of STDs by always using male condoms if you, your partner or both of you are biologically male. Regardless of your gender identity and sexual orientation, practicing mutual monogamy (you and your partner only have sex with one another) or reducing your number of sexual partners are important ways to prevent STD transmission. Get tested regularly and be sure that you are vaccinated against HPV.
Authored by: Hall Health Center Health Promotion staff (MS)
Reviewed by: Hall Health Center Health Promotion staff (MS, PA), February 2014