Medications are not the only means of improving your health. Simple lifestyle changes can have a measurable, positive effect on your health. These changes are just as important as taking your medications as prescribed. The top lifestyle changes that can help improve multiple health conditions include an increase in physical activity, losing excess weight, and quitting smoking.
Exercising just 30 minutes most days of the week can result in lower blood pressure, lower blood sugar, a stronger heart, and a decrease in your risk for heart attack and stroke. Exercise also makes you feel better and even sleep better. You can make simple changes to increase your daily physical activity by taking the stairs instead of the elevator and parking further away from your destination. Do keep in mind, however, that you should check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.
Losing just 10% of your current weight can also help lower blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol. To determine if you are at a healthy weight, you should know your current body mass index (BMI). Calculate and determine your BMI.
Quitting smoking is another major lifestyle change that can positively impact your health. Tobacco can put you at risk for different cancers, heart disease, and stroke. It can also worsen diabetes and high blood pressure. Your pharmacist can help you be successful by assisting you in choosing your quit date and finding appropriate nonprescription quitting aids such as nicotine patches or nicotine gum.
So, start eating fewer calories than you burn to lose weight, throw out those cigarettes for good, and walk, jog, or run into a healthier future. We, as pharmacists, stand ready to assist you in any way we can to achieve your goals. Just ask!
Lakesha Butler, Pharm.D., BCPS
Clinical Assistant Professor
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Pharmacy