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Choose a Healthy Lifestyle


Staying active and eating right can improve your life.
Living a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise and eating a nutritious diet is essential to maintaining one’s health. Most of us have an inkling of what we are supposed to do. For example, most parents try to instill in their children the importance of taking care of themselves. Oftentimes an appreciation for one’s health often occurs after we have faced a health challenge like a broken bone or serious health diagnosis like cancer. Yes, it does seem that some people are born with great health and seem to be able to withstand multiple injuries without sustaining permanent damage. However, most of those people will start to see some problems as they get older. Age catches up with us, although not at the same rate.

So why do I bring up the lifestyle issue again? New studies have verified how important practicing a healthy lifestyle can be for one’s health and longevity.

In a very recent study, researchers found that people who developed early hypertension and were highly motivated to make lifestyle changes were able to forestall the consumption of hypertension medications. These patients were able to delay taking medication for their ailment by consistently making healthy lifestyle choices.

One may ask, what constitutes a healthy lifestyle? Well for one, being active is a must. It is important to get at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise at least 5 days out of the week. Simple activities would be walking at a brisk pace on a treadmill or in the great outdoors. Bicycling or riding a stationary bike with some resistance are also great exercise activities. And of course, taking a fitness class or utilizing exercise videos where the pace changes and the activities focus on various muscle groups would pass muster. Lifting weights or resistance training should also be incorporated into any exercise program.

One of the greatest challenges for many people is eating a healthy diet. Again, most of us have an understanding regarding the foods we should and should not eat. Consuming the right foods often requires some effort. Some basic tenants would be to try to eat foods as close to the farm as you can. In other words, try to purchase fruits and vegetables sold at local farmers markets. Buying locally raise produce will eliminate or certainly decrease a lot of the additives such as salt found in processed foods.

Remember to eat four to five servings of fruit daily; the same goes for consuming vegetables- eat four to five servings daily. Fresh is best, followed by frozen then canned. The idea is that the less processed a food is, the better it is. Today’s farmers markets also have vendors who process and sell organic meats and fish which are great traditional sources of protein. If you are vegetarian, some great protein sources are dried beans such as Navy beans, black beans, black-eyed peas and Crowder peas to name a few.

In addition to eating right, it is important to develop a way to manage one’s stress. I want to emphasize that a little stress is okay but too much is actually deadly to your health. Such feelings can be lowered if we learn some conflict resolution skills and meditate often.

Another component to maintaining a healthy, happy and less stressed life is to sleep seven to eight hours each night. Contrary to what workaholics may believe, sleep is not a luxury but a much-needed necessity. Too little sleep can trigger the onset of health problems.

Living in a clean, healthy environment is also important in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Being safe reduces stress. Having adequate financial resources reduces stress and provides options in life. Having work that is meaningful provides mental satisfaction and adds to the joys of life. Having close, healthy and meaningful relationships also helps foster a healthy lifestyle.

A healthy lifestyle encompasses many things. It is what you give yourself and your family.

Dr. Veita Bland is a board-certified Greensboro physician and hypertension specialist. Dr. Bland’s radio show, “It’s a Matter of Your Health,” can be heard live on Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. on N.C. A&T State University’s WNAA, 90.1 FM. Listeners may call in and ask questions. The show is replayed on Sirius 142 at 5 p.m. on Wednesdays.

Email Dr. Bland at