Chronic Disease Prevention

Healthy Lifestyle

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Leading a healthy lifestyle by making healthy choices can result in a longer, more independent, and happier life. There are many things that you can do to help live a good life and prevent chronic disease and illness. Seven recommended healthy living strategies include:

Physical Activity: Be active. Get moving!

Being active can add many benefits to your life. Research shows that being physically active for 150 minutes per week can help to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, certain types of cancer, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and being overweight. Physical activity is also associated with improved mental health, stress relief, and feeling better.

In order to achieve health benefits and improve functional abilities, the Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines recommend that adults, ages 18 to 64 years, accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous aerobic activity per week. You should also try to engage in muscle strengthening activities at least twice per week and practice flexibility and balance.

Put the tablet down, turn off the TV and get active! Limit your recreational screen time to 3 hours per day. Being active doesn’t have to be lonely or boring. Bring a friend and find an activity that you enjoy. You can even build physical activity into your daily routine for greater convenience.

Healthy Eating: You are what you eat.

Your body is an amazing machine, but it needs healthy fuel to perform at its best.  A diet that constantly feeds the body fried, high-fat, salty junk foods is like pouring bacon grease into your vehicle’s gas tank – it will just clog up the engine and prevent it from working properly.

Fruits and vegetables are good for you. Canada’s Food Guide recommends eating plenty of fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables should make up ½ of you plate. Try a variety, fresh, frozen or canned fruits and vegetables. Even canned or frozen fruits and vegetables can be healthy options. If choosing canned read food labels and pick fruits that have no added sugar and vegetables with little or no added salt.

The other ½ of your dinner plate should be made up of ¼ whole grains such as whole wheat pasta, quinoa, or brown rice as examples. The other ¼ of your plate is for the protein foods such as meat, fish, eggs, lentils, chickpeas and tofu as examples.

Water should be the beverage of choice.  Avoid sugary drinks that offer no nutritional value and are high in sugar and calories.

In our busy lives and rushed environment, it is easy to rely on fast food or pre-made snacks. Here are some tips to help you maintain a healthy, balanced diet:

  • Keep a water bottle with you so you drink water and not juice or pop
  • Keep healthy snacks on hand at work (e.g. carrot sticks, unsalted nuts, oranges, etc.)
  • Pack a lunch for school and work
  • Plan your weekly menu

Live Smoke-Free

The single best thing that you can do to prevent chronic disease and avoid premature death is to live smoke-free.

Smoking is a known risk factor for developing several chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and several types of cancers. It is important to know that it is never too late to quit. In fact, your body starts to heal itself within hours of quitting. Within 8 hours, your carbon monoxide levels in your blood drop and oxygen levels rise. After 2 days, your sense of smell and taste start to improve. Between 2 weeks and 3 months, you will find it easier to breathe because your lungs are working better. If you remain smoke-free for a year your risk of a smoking-related heart attack is cut in half.

Smoking is not a habit; rather it is an addiction to nicotine – one of the world’s most powerful drugs. If you or someone you know is trying to quit smoking there is help available. Research shows that approximately 70% of people who smoke have thought about quitting or want to quit.

In an effort to support a healthy environment for our patients, families, staff, and volunteers, our Hospital’s grounds are 100% smoke-free. For more information on how you can quit smoking see our Smoke-Free Together initiative.

Source: Canadian Cancer Society

Limit Your Alcohol Intake

Healthy living means all things in moderation – and that includes drinking alcohol.  Recent reports show that drinking more than the recommended amount of alcohol can increase your risk of liver disease, cardiovascular disease, and some types of cancer.

Cancer prevention guidelines recommend that, if consumed, alcohol should be limited to 1 drink for women and 2 drinks for men each day. Read Cancer Care Ontario’s full report on alcohol as a cancer risk factor in Ontario,

If you choose to drink, consider these safer drinking tips:

  • Set limits for yourself and stick to them.
  • For every drink of alcohol, have one non-alcoholic drink.
  • Eat before and while you are drinking.
  • Always consider your age, body weight, and health programs that might suggest lower limits.

Source: Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines

Manage Your Stress: Relax. Find balance.

We live in a fast-paced, busy world and sometimes we get caught up in the motions of day-to-day life and stresses.

Make time for yourself to relax or do the things you enjoy. Find the balance in your life between work, life, and all of your other day-to-day businesses in between – including getting enough sleep! Make it your priority to find a work-life balance. Click here for some tips on how to help find balance.

To find out if you are in balance, take the Canadian Mental Health Association’s ‘Work-Life Balance Quiz’.

Disclaimer: This quiz provides general information only. It is not a diagnostic test.

Get Screened for Cancer!

Cancer screening can find cancers earlier when they are easier to treat. Ontario has three organized cancer screening programs breast, cervical and colon cancer. These programs offer free screening to eligible men and women, as well as follow-up if necessary.

For more information on cancer screening services in our region click here.

Get a good night’s sleep.

Sometimes we forget how important getting enough sleep is, but it is very important for optimal health. Adults should aim to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night Click here for some healthy sleep tips.

Chronic Disease Prevention Messages:

  • The best way to fight chronic disease and illness is to prevent it.
  • Adults, ages 18 to 64, should accumulate 150 minutes of exercise each week.
  • Before starting an exercise program, you should talk to your health care provider.
  • Being active for at least 150 minutes per week can reduce the risk of chronic disease and premature death.
  • Physical activity can lead to improved fitness, strength, and mental health.
  • Eat at least one dark green and one orange vegetable each day.
  • Have vegetables and fruit more often than juice.
  • Select lean meats and trim visible fat from meats.
  • A single cigarette contains more than 4,000 chemicals.
  • The single best thing you can do for your health is to live smoke-free.
  • Most people who smoke have thought about quitting or want to quit.
  • Smoking is not a habit; it is an addiction to nicotine.
  • Find your work-life balance.
  • Get screened for cancer!
  • Adults should get 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night.