Healthy Lifestyles – 22 February is Healthy Lifestyles Awareness Day
Healthy Lifestyles Awareness Day is there to remind us to keep on track and be proactive about our health. We the year with a list of New Year’s resolutions, whatever they might be a month later our good intensions go out the door.
The South African Government uses National Healthy Lifestyles Awareness Day to promote the five elements of the healthy lifestyle campaign which are:
- promotion of good nutrition
- regular physical activity
- tobacco control
- interventions against alcohol and substance abuse
- promotion of safe sexual behaviour.
Currently, South Africans have the highest numbers of increasing incidence of cardiovascular disease and diabetes in the world. Experts say this is largely due to the combination of poor diets, lack of physical activity, smoking and drinking.
Lifestyle diseases are diseases that can potentially be prevented by changes in diet, environment, and lifestyle, more commonly known as Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart disease, stroke, obesity, and osteoporosis.
NCDs are directly linked to modern lifestyles, and their incidence can be significantly reduced through modification of individual behaviours. A 2014 World Health Organisation (WHO) report indicated that approximately 2 out of 5 deaths in SA are attributable to NCDs.
The major NCDs in South Africa are:
- Tobacco use
- Harmful use of alcohol
- Poor eating habits
- Physical inactivity
Tips from the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa (HSFSA):
- Switch to sugar free drinks instead of your usual fizzy cold drink.
- Swop full cream milk for fat free milk and cut your fat intake by 7.5g.
- If you use butter or hard brick margarine, change to soft tub margarine.
- Eat at least five servings of fruit and vegetables daily.
- Do 30 minutes of exercise five times a week.
- Drink more water – as a guideline, men should aim to drink around 12 glasses of fluid a
day, and women should drink around nine glasses. A glass is 250ml.
- If you smoke, consider quitting – smoking almost triples the risk of heart disease. The benefit is twofold as you also save money.
The long-term benefits of a healthy lifestyle can not be denied. A healthy lifestyle will help to prevent disease, manage stress, and improve your wellbeing. Rome was not built in one day. Take baby steps and start building the foundation for the life you have always wanted!
Sources: Aon Hewitt Global Medical Trend Rate Report for 2016, the Council for Medical Schemes (CMS).